Out of the sheds: Women fight segregation in rural Nepal

Allyn Gaestel – Christian Science Monitor – Thursday, 07 March 2013 (originally published 02 Mar)

Radhika Sunar and other girls laughing outside a small hut
Radhika Sunar, who lives in the Nepalese village of in Siddheshwar, Achham, laughed with other girls as she stood last November in front of her ‘chaupadi goth,’ a small hut where area women sleep for four nights during their monthly period. Image: Allison Shelley

In this tiny riverside town in Nepal’s remote Far West region, a spitfire activist explains his fight against chaupadi, the local custom of isolating women from their families during menstruation.

For generations here, menstruating women have slept outside of their homes, in small sheds or in the family stable. They are considered impure and treated as untouchable, so they cannot enter the house or touch communal water or food. The activist, Dhurbar Sunar, is not having it: “I think this is a social crime in terms of women’s rights,” he says.

Mr. Sunar is the Project Coordinator at Samabikas, a local organization pushing to abolish chaupadi here in Achham district and elevate women’s status. They work village by village, declaring them “chaupadi free” as they go . . .

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