Just over a year ago, a 22-year-old Nepalese woman froze to death in a windowless hut that she was forced to live in because she was menstruating. It was part of a Hindu tradition known as chhaupadi that treats menstruating women like lepers. They must be isolated and shunned until it passes because they are deemed unclean.
In other cases, women have talked about being forced to skip a loved one’s funeral or dying from a natural disaster all because they were cooped up in a hut, unable to be in regular contact with their families (specifically men).
It just happened again (allegedly). This time, a 21-year-old Nepalese woman in one of the huts was so cold that she lit a fire to keep warm. She eventually died of suffocation, according to the BBC. (These kinds of reports aren’t always reliable so take it with a grain of salt.)
Parwati Bogati was found when her mother-in-law went to check on her.
“She was excited about the next day as her menstruation would end. Poor child closed her eyes forever,” Laxmi Bogati told the Kathmandu Post.
Local police officer Lal Bahadur Dhami told AFP of the latest case: “We suspect she died due to smoke inhalation and suffocation because she closed the door of the windowless hut and lit a fire on the floor for warmth during the night.”
While Nepal criminalized chhaupadi in 2017, it’s still common for cultural reasons. Last month, one village went so far as to burn the chhaupadi huts so that no one could use them at all.
If this woman died, though, it’s all the more reason to make the punishments even steeper while educating locals against the practice. It’s hard to reason people out of their superstitions, but it’s easier to show young people why this ritual only comes with down sides. The sooner the education begins, the more lives will be saved.
(Screenshot via YouTube)