Deaths prompt Nepal to offer cash to women who shun ‘menstrual huts’

KATHMANDU – A Nepali village will give cash rewards to women who refuse to be isolated in illegal ‘menstrual huts’ during their periods, an official said on Tuesday after the custom led to another death.

Parbati Buda Rawat, 21, was on the third day of her period on Sunday when she lit a fire to keep warm in the freezing mud and stone hut, but was discovered dead the next morning in western Nepal’s Achham district, police said.

“It appears she died after suffocating,” Narapati Bhatta, a police inspector, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Outrage led to a parliamentary investigation into the centuries-old Hindu practice of “chhaupadi”, outlawed in 2005, after a teenage girl and a mother and her young sons died in two similar incidents earlier this year.

The custom remains prevalent in Nepal’s remote west where some communities fear misfortune, such as a natural disaster, unless menstruating women and girls – seen as impure – are sent away to animal sheds or huts.

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