By Sher Bahadur Sharki, Bajura, Jan. 20: Even though most of the Chhaugoths or menstrual sheds in Bajura have been pulled down so as to force the families to not keep away the women during periods, the practice of isolating women during their periods is still going on due to fear of shaman.
Three people, including a mother and two sons, were killed when a fire engulfed them while they were sleeping in a Chhaugoth at Agaunpani of Pandusain in Budhinanda Municipality-9 of Bajura district on January 9, 2020.
After this incident, the Home Ministry instructed the Bajura district administration office to demolish all the menstrual sheds. Despite the demolition of the Chhaugoths existing in all local levels of Bajura, the ill practice has remained as many women refused to stay at home during menstruation due to the fear of shaman.
Most of the women started to live in their own home during menstruation after the demolition campaign started.
Meena Sarki, a local of Budhiganga Municipality-8, said that most of the women had now started sleeping outside their homes under tents after shamans got angry saying that something bad would happen if women slept in the home during menstruation as the campaign had slowed down lately.
According to the District Police Office, Bajura, a total of 511 menstrual sheds were demolished in 2075/76 BS (2018), 168, and 343 in 2076/77 BS (2019).
A total of 511 Chhaugoths were found recently in Bajura after the District Administration Office, Bajura, directed the police, locals and people's representatives to collect data on cowsheds.
Most of the people's representatives are now engaged in the campaign of ensuring that women are allowed to sleep at home during menstruation at their local level.
However, women in the families of the shamans and priests still sleep outside their homes putting up tents during menstruation.
Parbati Sharki, from Budiganga Municipality-8, said that she is living outside by setting up tripod after a traditional healer started to show fury saying that the deity gets angry if women sleep in the home during her period.
She said that she was living in the home during menstruation when the Chhaugoth demolishing campaign was in full swing, however, now she has been asked to live in Tripod during five days of menstruation as the campaign has slowed down lately.
Sharki said that she was forced to live in Chhaugth during menstruation after having to bear the anguish of family members who claimed that domestic animals were getting ill because of her living inside the home during menstruation.
Women in Timada, Juwapani, Selapakha, Palwada, Badeda, Bhandargaon, Sigada, Nuwakot and Jhali of Bajura's Budhi Ganga Municipality still do not get to eat nutritious food like curd and honey during menstruation.
The superstition that cows and buffaloes die after giving milk and yogurt to women during menstruation is still alive and well, so they are not allowed to eat such nutritious food.
In most of the wards of Budhiganga Municipality, about 57 Chhaugoths have been demolished in the presence of police, locals and people's representatives, but few sheds are still there, said local Rajendra Rawal.
He said that the government service facility would be stopped if people were found sleeping in the shed during menstruation. But many people are found following the Chhaupadi Pratha (Chhau practice).
Although other local levels in the district have been following the government's policy, women living in the pocket area of Dhamijhankri are still forced to sleep in sheds and huts.
Yet again, traditional healers are found blaming women if domestic cows and buffaloes are found ill.
At the same time, various governmental and non-governmental organizations working in the field of menstruation in the district have been giving training to Dhamijhankris (shamans) to stop forcing women to live in the shed during menstruation as it is an evil practice.
Surendra Thapa, a ward member of Budhiganga Municipality-8, said that there is a plan to stop the services provided to families by the local level if they are compelling women to sleep in the shed during periods.