AGAINST CHHAUPADI: THE NEPALI TRADITION THAT EXILIES WOMEN DURING MENSTRUATION
Let's fight against the menstruation taboo in Nepal - Project Rato Baltin
Rato Baltin is a program of participatory photography, sex education and menstrual cups to eradicate Chhaupadi in Nepal, a tradition that considers women and girls impure while menstruating, exposing them to a deadly environment.
What's the Problem: Chhaupadi.
In Nepal, placing menstruating girls and women in sheds or huts is a centuries-old tradition called chhaupadi.
During their periods, women are considered impure, dirty, contaminated and bad luck. They can’t touch their husbands, other family members, water sources, fruit trees, or cattle, among a host of other things. They may only eat beaten rice and salt.
The belief that menstruation is impure is so deep-seated that families overlook extreme risks involved in the practice.
Extreme temperatures expose them to health problems including pneumonia, diarrhoea, chest and respiratory tract infection. Every year 3 or 4 women die during this banishment, because of asphyxiation, hypothermia, snakebites or other wild animal attacks, and nobody knows the true numbers of how many are raped.
The practice is supported by community elders, husbands, mothers-in-law, traditional healers, and priests who have a profound influence in the community. Villagers believe that letting menstruating women inside the family house will infuriate the gods, which will have serious consequences for both families and the entire community.
Our Solution: The Rato Baltin Project,Sex Education, participatory photography and Menstrual Cups.
The Rato Baltin Project is a Menstrual Health Management and sexual education program that aims to eradicate this practice. 2020 is our forth year working with community health workers, teachers, political leaders and local NGOs to this end. The Project is for girls, boys, women and their communities. We think that education is the only way to change these deeply held beliefs. With participative photography we invite them to speak about their menstruation, with an important part of the project being the distribution of a healthy and environmentally friendly solution: the menstrual cup.
We have already distributed more than 2000 menstrual cups to girls in remote villages. Each girl received a cup and training on how to use it. They are also given a metal bucket (baltin) to have clean water and somewhere to boil the cup.
Our goal is to destigmatize menstruation as a normal biological function, reduce the prevalence of chhaupadi, and mitigate its consequences. Through these ends, girls and women are also empowered with the confidence to continue to attend school and be active in public spaces.
Thank you very much from the be artsy team.
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