After Odisha, we can see a new initiative has been taken by Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district administration in the month of January 2018 launched a year-long programme to end the practice of banishing women to cattle sheds during their periods.
Called Naari Samman (women’s pride), the programme aims to create awareness and break menstruation taboos. “Women’s Pride is an initiative to remove menses-related misconceptions from the minds of people,” Kullu deputy commissioner Yunus Khan told Hindustan Times on Monday.
Women in some remote parts of Himachal, often referred to as Dev Bhoomi (abode of gods) for a large number of temples, are sent out of their homes every month during their periods.
A survey by the Kullu administration found that in 91 of the 204 panchayats in the district, menstruating women are still forced to live in cattle sheds every month.
Not just in this district, women face all kinds of discrimination across the country that stem from a deep-rooted belief that menstruating women are impure and can bring bad luck.
“The villagers appear to have borrowed from a practice called chaupadi in Nepal wherein women are relegated to cattle-sheds to keep ‘impurity’ out of home,” Khan said.
Girls and women were shunted out of homes to a shed in many parts of Nepal that followed chaupadi but in August 2017, the country passed a law criminalising the tradition.
Khan, who initiated the campaign from Kullu’s Naujana village, said the survey found many women in the remote areas were forced to stay in isolation or in secluded places during periods.
The administration hand has also roped in local theatre artistes and folks groups. “It’s a very good initiative that will help in ending discrimination against women in villages,” Kullu zila parishad chairperson Rohini Chaudhary said.
The district administration will organise a panchayat-level campaign with the help of anganvadi and health workers as well as women groups.
Temple committees and religious organisations will help the government in sensitising the locals.
Call for help
A helpline — 01902-222105 — has been set up for women to get information about the campaign. It will also provide free counselling and, if needed, arrange for psychiatrists and doctors.
Credits: Hindustan times