Kullu: Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu district administration had a great start to the year as they launched a year-long programme to put an end to the practice of isolating women to cattle-sheds during their periods, Hindustan Times has reported.
The programme is called Naari Samman (women’s pride) and aims to spread awareness and break taboos relating to menstruation.
“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.
In some remote parts of Himachal Pradesh, women are referred to as Dev Bhoomi, but are banished from their houses every month during their periods.
Menstruating women are forced to live in cattle-sheds every month in 91 of the 204 panchayats in the district, according to a survey by the Kullu administration.
The problem is not just confined to Kullu, but women all over the country face all kinds of discrimination due to the age-old belief that menstruating women can bring ‘bad luck’ and are considered ‘impure’.
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. Yunus Khan, Deputy Commissioner, Kullu.
Similar traditions were normal in Nepal until August 2017, when the government passed a law criminalising the tradition. Girls and women were forced out of their homes into a shed during their periods.
According to the Hindustan Times, Khan, the person who started this campaign from Kullu’s Naujana village, has said that the survey found out that many women in remote areas are forced to stay in isolation.
The administration body has also joined hands with local theatre artistes and folk 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 hold a panchayat-level campaign, taking help from anganwadi, health workers and women groups.
Religious organisations and temple committees are said to help the government in spreading the word among 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.