A girl from Gajra village in western Nepal’s Achham district, was taking part in chhaupadi, a common practice in the far west of the country in which women, considered unclean during menstruation, are banished for the extent of their periods.
According to CNN, she died from smoke inhalation after she was separated from her community because she was menstruating and left to sleep in a menstruation hut in Nepal.
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Her death was the second in under a month, according to Achham district police inspector Badri Prasad Dhakal, who added that 10 girls have died in similar huts in the district over the past nine years.
“Deaths are usually caused by smoke inhalation, snake bites (and) lack of basic health care during menstruation,” he said.
Chhaupadi dates back centuries and has its roots in Hindu taboos over menstruation.
As well as being isolated in tiny “menstruation huts” — small, ramshackle buildings with small doors and often no windows and poor sanitation and ventilation — women and girls are forbidden from touching other people, cattle, green vegetables and plants, and fruits, according to a 2011 United Nations report
They are also not allowed to drink milk or eat milk products and their access to water taps and wells is limited.
“Some in the Far West still believe that a God or Goddess may be angered if the practice is violated, which could result in a shorter life, the death of livestock or destruction of crops,” the report said.
“It is believed by some that if a woman touches fruits, they will fall before they are ripe. If she fetches water, the well will dry up.”
In some areas, the restrictions extend to girls reading, writing or touching books during menstruation out of fear of angering Saraswati, the goddess of education.