Menstruation is known as ‘Chhui’ in this community. There are restrictions for women/girls during menstruation. Previously, they were not allowed to use toilet and tap for 7 days, but now it is 3 days. The restrictions are practiced more strictly in the households of Dhami/Jhakri. There are no restrictions in educated families
In the households that have restrictions, the women and girls go to the river/creek/ bushes/farm for defecation. They go to separate sources of water for bathe and other sanitary activities. There is no hand washing station managed for menstruating women/ girls. They are not allowed to touch others, enter into the kitchen, participate in religious events nor eat some dairy products like milk and curd. Most of the menstruating women/ girls stay in cattle shed. It is the mother-in- laws and the women themselves who decide to follow such practices, due to religious values. It is believed that God becomes angry, if they do not follow it. Women are given dairy products during postpartum. They can use toilet as well. This has changed for the better in the past 5 years due to Government information on what is safest for the baby. But Dhami/Jhakri are still strict.
Now the community is aware that such harmful practices are to be eliminated gradually, as the have received orientation on this from different organizations such as KRIDARC, Sundar Nepal etc. The community is however not aware that such discrimination is a crime according to Civil Criminal Code Act 2074.
There are no discriminations regarding menstruation management in the Lama community. However, menstrual hygiene management is not so good. Panties are rarely used by rural women, but school girls and young ladies use it. Students use sanitary pad, but there is no proper management of disposal.
The Thakuri community is, on the other hand, strict to follow the restrictions. Untouchability, staying in chhau hut, no access to use toilet and tap, no permission to take food like milk and curd, no touching plants, etc. are major restrictions in the Thakuri community. Menstruation is considered impure. If a menstruating girl or woman touches someone, cow urine or cow dung with water is sprayed to make him/her pure. Menstruation based discrimination usually lasts from 3 to 5 days. Menstruation based discrimination can be seen followed mostly in rural areas but in mild forms also in Simikot market. There are almost similar types of restrictions in postpartum time. Other communities except Lama follow some restrictions in milder forms.
Dolpa, Jajarkot and Rukum:
The practices of “Chhui” which is called “Chhau” in other parts of Karnali, takes different forms in the districts of Bheri corridor.
In the mountainous part of Dolpa, especially in Dolpa Buddha, Chharka Tangsong and Shey-phoksundo rural municipalities, the women do not stay away from the kitchen during menstruation. They even prepare the food. However this is not openly shared or talked about and the women are shy when asked about it.
In the lower part of Dolpa, Jajarkot, Rukum, menstruating women stay away from the kitchen for 3-5 days but in Brahmin communities of Dolpa (so called upper caste people), the separation is done for 7 days. Women these days do not stay in the cow shed in these areas, despite this practice still taking place elsewhere in Karnali.