Today is 65th International Human Rights Day. On this occasion there is a huge celebration. Government Organizations, NGOs, INGOs and even local organizations are celebrating with different programs and rallies. Back here in rural Nepal Chaupadi system is still alive. This time we are advocating for “Ending violence against women and children must become a priority for everyone during the coming years….” but it seems there won’t be any full stop to Chaupadi system in Nepal.
During my field visit to Sugarkhal, I met a woman who lives across the Karnali River. She is 27 years old and was married when she was just 16 years old. Her husband carry people in a boat to cross the Karnali river and sometimes catch fishes for their living. It is a small family with three children, two sons and a daughter but they are struggling as they belong to poor and lower caste. I observed their surroundings. It was a small typical Nepali house with shed. The family also comprises of buffaloes, goats and few chicken and a dog. Beside their home there was a small hut with blanket on it. I asked the lady who was extremely happy to see us near her home and invited for snacks. She laughed at me and said,” you even do not know what is this? Don’t you have to stay in this when you have your Chhau.” Surprisingly I looked at her face and said “Chhau”.
Due to unhealthy these huts, women suffer from various infectious diseases. Diarrhea and respiratory diseases are common. Malnutrition are also seen due to lack of food during these periods. Sometimes child and mother both die due to the possibility of excessive bleeding following labor or with other illness.
Of all the cultural practices that oppress Nepali women, none is as degrading as chaupadi. Women live in small huts made of mud, straw and wood which are barely two feet high and two feet wide. Sometimes, a common shed is built where all the women in the village stay. Women spend a total of about eight years of their life in such sheds. Medical doctors have often cited the practice of chaupadi as one of the reasons for increased cases of uterus prolepses in these parts of Nepal.
The Supreme Court of Government of Nepal has declared the practice unlawful but enforcing the law is challenging. Recently Government of Nepal has declared Chaupadi free district. Actions have been taken. I just want to highlight that there are still some tradition in Nepal which total goes against HUMAN Rights. Firstly Nepal Government should monitor whether rights of human being respected in all parts of Nepal or not. Even if Nepal has signed CEDAW decade back with great proud there are still discrimination against women and girls in form of culture and tradition.