Our contact people in the area (all male) told us that here there was no Chhaupadi unlike in Achcham: that there are no special huts for women on their period, that they have a room inside their homes. However, during our journey we saw a few of them. There are some characteristics that make them easily recognisable: the plate to eat outdoors, the clothes in the sun, the door without any kind of lock.
Our first conversation with a group of women was really interesting. At the beginning, we talked about superfluous things, they laughed with us and made questions to me and the nurses; until the moment they asked what were we doing here. With the nurses we have an agreement to never utter the word Chhaupadi or talk about the tradition, so our answer was: we are coming to the school to develop a programme about menstrual hygiene and sex education. We did not mention menstrual cups either.
Right away they asked if we had brought something to give them. Our answer was: No. We have come to teach about menstruation. They started talking about menstruation, about what they do: depending on which house, there is a local divinity: if you have this god at home, you cannot be there while you are on your period, and you have to sleep with the animals. But only if you have this god (I need to find out how they decide whether there is such god in the houses or not). They can eat fruit, but not touch the fruit trees. They cannot drink cow milk, but they can drink buffalo milk. They cannot touch any male relative, not even their parents or eldest sons (they can touch the younger ones). No one else can touch the plates they used for eating, someone else has to give them the food and water they need. They cannot get close to the temples…
The women without a local god at home can stay inside, but just in a special room for them. They cannot go out. The food and drink are brought inside by other members of the family.
Next, and for the first time since we started project Rato Baltin, they kindly invited us to follow the rules in town, and asked us not to go into the school or temple if we were on our period. If that were the case, we would have to go back. Oops!
In no occasion did they use the word impure, chhau, chhaupadi or anything similar. I do not know if it was because the nurses used the technical term, following the style of the girls, or because here they do not even name it, the Chhaupadi. We will have to see the pictures resulting from the participative photography workshop: let’s hope they will get more open towards us.
Written by Clara Go. Photos done with FUJIFILM X-Pro1 © Clara Go Translated to English by Regla Maria López / Alba Miquel
West Nepal girls need this kind of program. And we need help to continue the project!
Now you can donate for paying one month salary to the nurse, or for some hygiene kit or for the menstrual cup control in September: http://beartsy.org/get-involved-with-rato-baltin
Or If you feel like it, you can donate via bank transfer at: Banc Sabadell IBAN: ES23 0081 0900 8200 0430 1934 BIC: BSABESBB (your recurring donation will help us have a better planning of our budget to carry out the projects undertaken).
Or take a look others ways to donate in http://beartsy.org/donate/
Thank You! 🙂