Once demolished Chhaugoths start appearing again

By Sher Bahadur Sarki

Bajura, Jun 1:  Chhaugoths (sheds built for women to stay during menstruation), which were demolished earlier in the initiative of the campaigners and educated people in the district, have started appearing again.
More interesting is the fact that the Chhaugoths are being reconstructed by the same campaigners and educated people who had earlier launched the campaign against the evil practice of banishing girls and women during their period.
Women in Bajura and other districts of western Nepal are sent to live in the Chhaugoths built away from their homes during their period.
Many women and new mothers die due to snake bites and other causes while staying alone in such Chhaugoths. The women also get infected while staying in the unhealthy Chhaugoths. A few girls were even raped while in Chhaugoths,
A campaign to demolish the Chhaugoths and end the Chhaupadi practice in the district was launched by nine local bodies of the district. But many villagers have now started rebuilding the Chhaugoths at their homes.
Local levels, government and non-government organisations had demolished such sheds after collecting their data. But due to the deep-rooted superstitions among the villages and the slow-paced drive to demolish the Chhugoths, their rebuilding process has begun.
District Police Office of Bajura had begun the Chhaugoth demolishing process last year in coordination with the local levels after a mother and her three kids died when the Chhaugoth they were sleeping in caught fire at Agaaupani of Pandusen of Budinanda Municipality.
More than 60 Chhaugoths were demolished at Budinanda, Badimalika and Budiganga Municipalities and other parts of the district in the active involvement of both women and men over the year.
Earlier, a joint collaboration of the government and non-government organisations had declared Kolti, Kuldevmandu, Kailashmandu, Kada Jayabageshwori and Barabise Rural Municipalities as chhaupadi-free areas. But due to the fear of shamans and the regular practicing of Chhaupadi custom by the educated women, the campaign launched against the evil practice faced obstacle.
Despite the hard efforts made by the government and non-government sectors to eliminate the evil practice, the practice still exists in the society when the educated and employed women continue to follow it, which has led to the resumption of the construction of the demolished Chhaugoths in the villages, Rajendra Bahadur Rawal, a local social campaigner, said.
Due to the fear of the local shamans, many women are still forced to sleep in the Chhaugoths during their menstruation period risking their own life, he added.
Indra Kunwar, working in the women sector, said that the process to eliminate the chhaupadi custom had faced a snag when the educated and jobholder women hesitated to give up the evil practice.
They organised the campaign gathering all the shamans of the district to motivate them against the Chhaupadi, but the campaign failed to eliminate the evil practice due to the double standards of the shamans. “They say one thing outside their homes and the opposite inside, he said.
Rebuilding of the Chhaugoths got momentum after Bahadure Sarki, one of the anti Chhaugoth campaigners of Budiganga Municipality, rebuilt a Chhaugoth at his home. 

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