Chhaupadi: Battling Superstition to Empower Nepalese Women

Chhaupadi: Battling Superstition to Empower Nepalese Women
Photo by Terry Boynton / Unsplash


Nepal, a land of diverse cultures, is marred by the practice of Chhaupadi, a deeply rooted tradition that isolates women during menstruation. While this custom is steeped in fear and misconception, efforts are underway to eradicate this harmful practice and empower women to challenge societal norms and reclaim their rights.

Understanding Chhaupadi:

Nepal's cultural mosaic encompasses 125 ethnic cultures, but within this rich tapestry lies Chhaupadi – a practice primarily prevalent in remote rural areas. This tradition categorizes menstruating women as "impure," segregating them from their homes and communities. Known as the "Chhau" (menstruation) "Padi" (female) tradition, Chhaupadi confines young girls and women to rudimentary huts during their periods and even after childbirth.

Superstition vs. Reality:

Chhaupadi is more a superstition than a religious mandate, perpetuated by fear and misunderstanding. This practice brands women as "untouchable," stripping them of their basic rights and dignity. Isolated from family, community activities, and even proper healthcare, women and their newborns are subjected to dire health risks, including septic shock and high mortality rates.

Breaking Down Chhaupadi:

This practice primarily persists in districts like Accham, Bajhang, Dadheldhura, Baitadi, Darchula, and Doti, perpetuating gender discrimination and reinforcing traditional hierarchies. Chhaupadi forces women to endure isolation, prohibitions on touching people and animals, and limits their participation in cultural and religious activities.

Efforts Towards Change:

Prominent organizations are actively campaigning to end Chhaupadi and promote gender equality. Advocacy initiatives target traditional healers, mothers-in-law, priests, and vulnerable groups, employing posters, booklets, and radio campaigns to raise awareness. While this practice is deeply entrenched, courageous women across age groups are challenging period taboos and advocating for change.

Shifting Paradigms:

Despite its centuries-old existence, the tides are turning against Chhaupadi. Efforts such as dismantling menstrual huts and enacting legal penalties for those who enforce this practice signal a shift towards a more progressive Nepal. Awareness and empowerment initiatives are empowering women to break free from the confines of tradition and demand their rights.


As Nepal grapples with the weight of Chhaupadi, individuals, organizations, and policymakers are working together to rewrite the narrative. By dismantling this outdated and harmful practice, a brighter future emerges, one where the daughters, sisters, mothers, and wives of Nepal can reclaim their rightful place in society. It's time to unite against this practice and pave the way for a more equitable, inclusive, and empowered Nepal.