Women’s experiences of menstrual exile (Chaupadi) and its impact on health in Nepal

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Authors: Smriti Lama and Montakarn Chuemchit
Page Range: 131-140
Published in: International Public Health Journal, 14#2 (2022)
ISSN: 1947-4989

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Table of Contents

Menstrual exile (ME) also known as Chhaupadi or seclusion of women during their menstrual period from regular activities has been practiced over centuries in Western Nepal. ME is associated with various impacts and health risks. The objective of the study was to explore the experience of Chhaupadi practice and its impacts among women in Nepal. Methods: A community based quantitative cross-sectional study was conducted among 340 women aged 13-49 years using a self-administered survey in Krishnapur municipality of Kanchanpur District of Nepal. Descriptive statistics and chi square were used to investigate the situation, consequences, and its association of Chhaupadi practice. Results: The majority of women (76.5%) experienced seclusion during menstruation. Almost two thirds of the respondents (65.6%) experienced seclusion after child delivery. Most exiled girls (71.2%) unable to cook. Participants revealed having various impacts including physical harm, death in the family, lack of access to hygiene facilities, prohibition from participation in social functions, sleep disturbance, loneliness, and depression. Chhaupadi practice is associated with occupation (p = 0.018), level of education (p = 0.039), availability of toilet (p = 0.003), person influencing Chaupadi (p = 0.011) and key decision makers in the family (p = 0.027). Conclusion: “Chaupadi”, a social taboo, has been condemned by human rights organizations. This practice has been prevalent practicing even in semi urban of Nepal. Public health professionals must work towards improving health literacy on sexual and reproductive health as a mandatory component in the school health curriculum and community orientation to key population on Chhaupadi practice could lead to early abolishment of the tradition.

Keywords: Menstruation, menstrual exile, Chaupadi, Seclusion, Nepal