When Amba Bohara’s period arrived this week, she left her home and sequestered herself in an isolated hut — as she did every month in observance of the tradition of chhaupadi.
But this time, the 35-year-old and her two sons were found dead in Bajura province in Western Nepal on Wednesday morning.
The three are the most recent victims of this harmful practice, which is rooted in the belief that menstruating girls and women are “impure” and should leave their homes to avoid bringing “bad luck” to their families.
Police believe Bohara and her children died from smoke inhalation suffocation after lighting a fire to stay warm in the small hut.
Despite being banned for more than a decade and criminalized in 2017, the superstitious practice remains widespread in rural parts of the country, and several young women have died in these often windowless and unventilated menstrual huts.
Period stigma persists around the world and prevents girls and women from participating in daily life and reaching their full potential. Taboo surrounding menstruation and the lack of access to safe and affordable menstrual hygiene management resources forces many girls to miss out on school during their periods.
But menstruation is a natural and normal bodily function. Periods should not impede girls’ opportunities to get an education and should not threaten women’s lives. Instead, social attitudes around menstruation must change so that girls and women can remain a part of their communities and societies during their periods.