Urgent Action Requested: Policy for Dignified Menstruation in Nepal
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Dear Rt. Honourable Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba,
This petition asks you to please take immediate action to promulgate the policy to save girls and women from menstrual restrictions in Nepal.
As human rights activists, we have seen too many women suffer and die as a direct result of restrictive menstrual practices or Chhaupadi. As you know, these practices often violate the rights of women to freedom of movement, access to food, and the ability to have contact with other human beings. Such visible and severe forms of discrimination is prevalent in western Nepal, the region that you represent in government/parliament. Have we seen any progress in this regard since you took office four times (2004 June to 2005 Feb, 2001 Aug. to 2002 Oct, 1995 Sep. to 1997 March) already? I am afraid the answer is, “No.”
Why are women and girls still dying because of subhuman Chhaupadi practices?
We – and all of our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, have been waiting for too long. The time is now to advocate for concrete policies that protect women’s rights and recognise that menstruation is natural, developmental milestone for girls and women all over the world. On average, a woman menstruates during 3000 days of her life.
Among some communities in Nepal, however, menstruation is associated with a deep reject linked to an important level of ignorance, mixed with tradition, culture, poverty, and discrimination, lack of proper sanitation materials, infrastructure and more importantly lack of policy. It is multifaceted and complex in nature and the restrictions vary from one place to another and differs between public and private spheres. However, the restrictions associated with three main categories: access to food, direct contact, and freedom of mobility. Because of those restrictions, women are suffering from various forms of immediate and long-term irreversible effects throughout their lives. Those include health (physical, psychosocial, urinary and reproductive tract system), education, economic opportunities, and overall societal participation and respect. Women are segregated from their family members an average 60 days per year (5 days *1 month) where they are confined either in a dirty or clean shed (or house or cowshed or room or corner). Mostly in west Nepal, women are facing death, murder, snake and wild animal bite, rape, abuses, suffocation, extreme cold or heat (e.g. http://edition.cnn.com/2017/07/10/asia/nepal-menstruation-hut-deaths-outrage/index.html It is unbelievable, how many girls and women dead physically and mentally for centuries.This is all hindering factor for peace, empowerment and serious forms of violation of human right. Finally, the dignified menstruation is pre-condition for achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2030 as it is part of the normal development of individuals and their contribution to the society overall.
It is heavily overlooked by Nepal government and key stakeholders since beginning. There are many polices and acts promulgated by Ministries of Education, Health, Water Supply and Sanitation and Women, Children and social Welfare but there is no specific policy on menstruation yet. The vague guideline on Chhaupadi (restriction on touching house associated with other restrictions) bring a confusion and do not allow anyone to file the case and is not holistic in nature.
Thus, the specific policy on menstrual rights is urgent and should be provisioned in permanent way linked to 10 different articles in Constitution 2015 (Articles 16, 17,18,24,30,31,35,26,37,38, Dignified life, Right to Freedom, Right to Equality, Right to against discrimination and contamination, Right to Healthy Environment, Right to Education, Right to Health, Right to Food, Right to House and Right to Women respectively).
Thank you for understanding and looking forward to hear action.
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