Chhaupadi being cashed in as ‘vote bank’ by political parties

Kalika Khadka


It has been revealed that the politicians in the far and mid western parts of the country were found to be using the Chhaupadi tradition as a ‘vote bank’.

A report titled ‘National Investigation Report of Chhaupadi Tradition’ prepared by the National Human Rights Commission based on the studies conducted in Dailekh and Achham districts has concluded that the politicians did not speak against this ill tradition fearing that they would lose their votes in the elections.

Chhaupadi is a custom, recently criminalized, prevalent in the mid and far-western part of the country, wherein the girls and women are excluded from their families to take shelter in outhouse during menstruation.

At a report unveiling programme here Friday, NHRC Spokesperson Mohana Ansari said, “The politicians in the western part of the country do not dare to talk against the Chhaupadi fearing that they would lose their votes.”

She argued that it would take a political willpower to buck such ill custom. It is challenging to eliminate or reduce the practice of Chhaupadi in lack of political will power.

“Its high time we sought resolution towards this ill tradition where the menstruation is treated as an issue of untouchability,” asserted Ansari, claiming that the Chhaupadi tradition had bereft women of their rights to live.

According to the report, a total of 13 women had died in the past 14 years while living in the shelters while following the evil custom.

In the wake of increasing number of women succumbing to snake bites, rape and assault while being in the outhouse, the Legislature Parliament had passed a bill which came into effect from August 17 early this year that criminalized Chhaupadi.

The Clause 168 (3) of the Criminal Code prohibits any kind of discrimination, untouchability and inhuman behaviour against menstruating women and new mothers including sending them to sheds. Sub-clauses 4 and 5 have provisions of punishment for anyone involved in such offense.

NHRC Joint-Secretary Yubaraj Subedi commented that the local level which ought to make efforts to eliminate this ill-tradition has not worked up to the mark. He remarked, “The organ that enforces law has not been able to say no to Chhaupadi tradition. Our study found that even the political parties and social actors have failed to work efficiently to eliminate this ill practice.”

Also speaking on the occasion, Bishwa Hindu Mahasang Spokesperson Damodar Gautam said that no any holy scriptures had described as a sin. Gautam elaborated, “In Manusmriti, it is written that the menstruating women should take a rest but several misinterpretations of this statement are prevalent.”

Terming the Chhaupadi tradition as a wrong practice, he further said that it was a sin in itself to link a natural
phenomenon as menstruation with a sin.

The NHRC has been conducting research and studies for two years on the grave cases of violation of human rights such as death of women while practising Chhaupadi. RSS