Awareness raising through education is taking place among young girls to modify or eliminate the practice of chhaupadi in Nepal.

Chhaupadi (Nepali: छाउपडी [t͡sʰau̯pʌɽi] ) is a form of menstrual taboo which prohibits women and girls from participating in normal family activities while menstruating, as they are considered "impure". Chhaupadi is said to be practiced primarily in the western part of Nepal, but the same is true for city dwellers also. It is practiced all over the country with different names and practiced in different ways.

During chhaupadi, women are banned from the house and are made to live in a cattle shed (mainly in the western region of the country), or a makeshift dwelling known as a menstruation hut, for the duration of their period. Childbirth in Nepal also results in a similar form of confinement. During menstruation, women and girls are restricted from participating in everyday life events, and from interacting with their communities.[1]


The word Chhaupadi was originated in the Western part of Nepal. The practice of chhaupadi originates from the superstition that menstruation causes women to be temporarily impure. This superstition arose from a myth that Indra created menstruation as a means to distribute a curse.[2][3] In this belief system, it is thought that if a menstruating woman touches a tree, it will never again bear fruit; if she consumes milk, the cow will not give any more milk; if she reads a book, Saraswati, the goddess of education, will become angry; if she touches a man, he will be ill.

A remote village located in Mugu district of Far-Western Nepal.

The practice persists in rural areas primarily in Western Nepal. It is also called ‘chhue’ or ‘bahirhunu’ in Dadeldhura, Baitadi and Darchula, ‘chhaupadi’ in Achham, and ‘chaukulla’ or ‘chaukudi’ in Bajhang district.[4] It is also practiced all over the country, the only difference is the way of practice and how strict it is.


The tradition begins with an adolescent girl's first menstrual cycle, during which she remains in the shed for up to fourteen days; afterwards, she must spend the duration of each monthly period in the shed, until she reaches menopause. The girls and women living in the cities also follow the practice by living separately within the same room or house. Additionally, women who have just given birth must stay in the shed with their children for up to two weeks.[5]

Menstruating women and girls are required to remain isolated from their family, and are forbidden from entering homes, kitchens, schools, and temples. During this time, they remain in what is often known as a menstruation hut, which is usually made from wood or stone. In some locations, women may stay isolated from their family in a separate room attached to the house, such as a shed used for storing tools. Furnishings are sparse, so the women often sleep on the floor with only a small rug for warmth.[6] They may not touch family members, especially male family members, and food and water is passed to them in such a way as to prevent touching. Menstruating women are also restricted from participating in family, religious or social functions, such as attending the temple or going to weddings, and girls are prevented from going to school.[4]

Women who are menstruating are barred from consuming milk, yogurt, butter, meat, and other nutritious foods, for fear that their impurity will cause cows to become ill. The typical diet during menstruation includes dry foods, salt, and rice. Menstruating women are also barred from using community water sources or performing daily functions like bathing or washing clothing.[7]

Despite the social isolation of chhaupadi, women must still work, often in the fields, during menstruation.[8]

Traditional Practices During Chhaupadi [9]
Traditional Practices Percentage of Women Affected
Use of Separate Utensils 64.2%
Not Allowed to See the Sun 35.8%
No Permission to Go Outside 51.6%
No Permission to Cook Food 76.0%
Restriction of Usual Food 56.9%
Banned from Worshiping God 74.3%
Used to Eat in Separate Place 55.5%
Not Allowed to Sleep in Usual Bedroom 67.5%
Restricted from Touching Male Members 46.4%
Most Experienced Chhaupadi (Menstrual Shed) During Menarche 94.5%

Health and safety risks

Women are exposed to multiple health and safety risks while practising chhaupadi. Huts are often poorly constructed and lack heat or ventilation, leaving women exposed to the elements as well as extreme temperatures during different times of year. Women are at risk of developing illnesses such as pneumonia or diarrhea while practicing chhaupadi, and are also vulnerable to attack by snakes and other animals. Risk of asphyxiation is high if a woman starts a fire in the hut to keep warm during the winter. Women have also been raped while practising chhaupadi.[10][11][12] In addition, a study by Ranabhat et al. of women aged 12–49 in the Bardiya and Kailali provinces of Nepal showed that the practice of chhaupadi is significantly correlated with reproductive health problems such as dysuria and genital itching.[13]

While exact numbers are not available, women and girls die every year while performing chhaupadi. Particularly in the far and mid-western regions of Nepal, a number of deaths have been directly related to the use of these huts. Causes range from being attacked by animals, to being bitten by scorpions or snakes, to illnesses from exposure.[14] These are some examples of the deaths that have occurred due to chhaupadi:

Public action against chhaupadi

Community and organizational actions exist to combat the practice.[23] In January 2019, local authorities demanded the destruction of chhaupadi huts in Bajura, the municipality in which a woman and her two young sons died in a hut. This resulted in the removal of 60 sheds, and the deployment of law enforcement to patrol for further removal.[24]

Sangita Rokaya, a 26 year old Nepali woman climbed Mount Everest to spread awareness about this practice, and to give a voice to the "women and girls unable to speak up" over harmful menstrual taboos in Nepal.[citation needed]

Programs for the abolition of chhaupadi

The Supreme Court of Nepal issued an order on 19 Baisakh 2062 to declare chhaupdi as a crime and make necessary guidelines to put an end to this custom. The verdict states:

Based on the above judgment of the Supreme Court, the government has implemented a guideline against chhaupadi. The program to be implemented by the Government of Nepal to eradicate chhaupadi system is mentioned in the said guide as follows:

a) Immediate program

b) Long term program

c) Empowerment against Chaupadi through Literature In the later period, artists attempted to eradicate the Chhaupadi from west Nepal. Among, Ramesh Dahal's songwriting is remarkable.[25]

In this way, the Supreme Court has spoken against chhaupadi. The government of Nepal declared this custom as evil on 26th of Baisakh 2062 and has implemented the guidelines and conducted various programs. But this kind of bad practice, which has been rooted in the society for years, will not end only with the government announcement. For that, the members of the community themselves should be aware.

The role of the community

Various public awareness programs have been conducted at the community level against Chhaupadi custom. Various individuals, organizations and victims have also started speaking openly against this crime. As a collective effort of all of them, the Chhaupadi custom has started to loosen.


Chhaupadi was outlawed by the Supreme Court of Nepal in 2005, but the tradition has been slow to change.[26] In 2017, Nepal passed a law punishing people who force women into exile during menstruating with up to three months in jail or a fine of 3,000 Nepalese rupees. However, in the five months since the new law went into effect (in August 2018), no cases have been filed against those enforcing the practice.[27][28][29] In late 2018, district governments in the far west of the country began denying state support services to citizens still enforcing the practice of chhaupadi, in an effort to reduce the practice.[30]

See also


  1. ^ Ghimire, Laxmi (May 2005). "Unclean & Unseen" (PDF). Student BMJ. 330: 0505206. doi:10.1136/sbmj.0505206. S2CID 220092216. Retrieved December 3, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Jaishankar, K. (2013). Second International Conference of the South Asian Society of Criminology and Victimology (SASCV). Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu, India: South Asian Society of Criminology and Victimology. p. 142. ISBN 9788190668750.
  3. ^ Gupta, Gargi (Dec 6, 2015). "Menstruation and the religious taboos for women". dna. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  4. ^ a b United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator's Office (April 1, 2011). "FIELD BULLETIN: Chaupadi In The Far-West" (PDF). United Nations Office of Human Rights. Archived (PDF) from the original on August 3, 2018. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  5. ^ "Assessment Study on Chhaupadi in Nepal: Towards a Harm Reduction Strategy" (PDF). Nepal Health Sector Programme. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 22, 2018. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  6. ^ "Teen girl dies in menstruation hut in Achham district in Nepal". 2016-12-23. Archived from the original on 2018-12-21. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  7. ^ Aldama, Zigor (February 23, 2018). "Period shaming in Nepal: new law may finally end practice of banishing menstruating women". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  8. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (19 June 2018). "Where a Taboo Is Leading to the Deaths of Young Girls". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2018-08-01. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  9. ^ Parajuli, S. B.; KC, Heera; Mishra, A.; Bhattarai, P.; Shrestha, M.; Srivastav, K. "Chhaupadi (Menstrual Taboo) and Its Impact on Adolescent Girls' Lives in Rural Nepal". Bibechana. Research Council of Science and Technology, Biratnagar, Nepal. eISSN 2382-5340. ISSN 2091-0762.
  10. ^ Shelley, Allison (2013-06-12). "In Nepal, Exiled Each Month". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  11. ^ Shanti Kadariya, Arja R Aro (June 2015). "Chhaupadi practice in Nepal – analysis of ethical aspects". Medicolegal and Bioethics. 53: 53–58. doi:10.2147/MB.S83825. Archived from the original on 2021-07-21. Retrieved 2018-08-01 – via ResearchGate.
  12. ^ "The Risky Lives of Women Sent Into Exile—For Menstruating" Archived 2017-07-11 at the Wayback Machine, National Geographic, March 10, 2017.
  13. ^ Ranabhat, Chhabi; Kim, Chun-Bae; Choi, Eun Hee; Aryal, Anu; Park, Myung Bae; Doh, Young Ah (2015-08-27). "Chhaupadi Culture and Reproductive Health of Women in Nepal". Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health. 27 (7): 785–795. doi:10.1177/1010539515602743. ISSN 1010-5395. PMID 26316503. S2CID 20431313.
  14. ^ a b "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-07-21. Retrieved 2019-02-01.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ McNamara, Brittney. "A 15-Year-Old Girl Died When She Was Banished to a Hut for Menstruating". Teen Vogue. Archived from the original on 2016-12-21. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  16. ^ Evelyn Nieves, "In Nepal, Monthly Exile for Women" Archived 2017-01-06 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times "Lens", Jan. 5, 2017.
  17. ^ "15-Year-Old Girl Found Dead In A Menstrual Hut In Nepal" Archived 2018-02-08 at the Wayback Machine, NPR, Dec. 20, 2016.
  18. ^ Gupta, Swati (10 January 2019). "Banished from home for menstruating, mother and two children die in Nepali hut - CNN". Archived from the original on 2019-01-10. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  19. ^ "Nepali woman, two children, die in outlawed 'menstruation hut'". 10 January 2019. Archived from the original on 11 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019 – via The Economic Times.
  20. ^ "Mother and sons die in 'menstruation hut'". BBC News. 2019-01-10. Archived from the original on 2019-01-11. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  21. ^ "Woman suffocates in 'menstruation hut'". 2019-02-04. Archived from the original on 2019-02-04. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  22. ^ "Teenage girl dies after being forced to stay in a 'period hut' in Nepal". 2023-08-11. Retrieved 2023-08-11.
  23. ^ Gaestel, Allyn; Shelley, Allison (2013-03-02). "Out of The Sheds: Women Fight Segregation in Rural Nepal". The Christian Science Monitor.
  24. ^ "Locals tear down Chhaupadi huts amid wide concern over deaths in sheds". The Himalayan Times. 2019-01-17. Archived from the original on 2019-02-04. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  25. ^ "'छाउपडि' जनचेतनामुलक गीत सार्वजनिक".
  26. ^ "Nepal: Emerging from menstrual quarantine". Integrated Regional Information Networks. 3 August 2011. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  27. ^ Preiss, Danielle (2019-05-19). "Why It's Hard To Ban The Menstrual Shed". NPR.
  28. ^ roshan sedhai, associated press (2012-09-20). "Nepal strengthens laws against dowry, menstrual exile - ABC News". Archived from the original on 2017-08-10. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  29. ^ "Criminal Code 'ineffective' to end Chhaupadi practice". Archived from the original on 2019-01-27. Retrieved 2019-01-26.
  30. ^ Adhikari, Rojita (2019-01-14). "Destroy 'period huts' or forget state support: Nepal moves to end practice". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 2019-01-26. Retrieved 2019-01-26.