Namaste EFL and Promis Project
Being a woman, I feel fortunate to be able to work in women’s health. This is my third visit to remote villages in the far west of Nepal to distribute sanitary pads to women and girls who are kept out of the house during menstruation. I have been working on Phase 2 of this project alongside EFL and the Promis Project.
During their periods, girls and women are compelled to spend their nights in menstrual huts where the floor is soaked in monsoon and freezing during the Winter season. Women are always afraid of snakes and drunks at night.
A small hut is shared by 5/6 girls or more. During one of our workshops, one of the girls said very sharply, that they do not have enough room to stretch their legs- all the class laughed. The hut is dark and airless. They have to spend 6 nights in there, and on day 7 the girls can go home.
When the girls were asked why they need to go into huts during the periods, it is because there is a strong belief amongst the communities that women are impure and God will be angry if they are in the house and touch the things and cattle during the period. They are not allowed to touch anything inside house. They are afraid, they believe bad things will happen if they do not follow or break the rules. Local people believe in God, apart from believing in God, the they have a fear of being isolated from society, of people no longer wanting to talk to them or come to their houses. To stop this from happening the girls are compelled to follow these strict rules during their periods.
Most of the girls said they never talk about menstruation with their mother. They learn by seeing their older sisters, aunt, mother or female friends go through their periods. Even if they have a lesson about periods in their text books, sometimes teachers scrap this part of the lesson. Girls do not feel comfortable to learn about periods in front of the boys. Boys also feel shy and uncomfortable to talk about this subject which is still seen as ‘taboo’.
During their time in the hut, women and girls suffer from diarrhea, suffocation, snake bites and pneumonia. Many girls also have known to die from suffocation and snake bites.
The hut is very small and there is no window. Once the girls close the door, there is no clean air coming into the hut. The hut is quite away from the home so they are not able to keep themselves or the hut clean.
Not all girls can afford hygienic sanitary pads. Using rags and cloths as an alternative to pads is common. If they need sanitary pads, they have to walk very far to get them.
Girls and teachers are very pleased to have re-usable sanitary pads which EFL and the Promis project have provided them. These pads were made in Katmandu “Freedom Kits ” from Beni Handcraft. Teachers added that previously the girls were using piece of clothes as pads but now they will use EFL kits. It looks manageable because there are holders and multi layers in the re-usable pads. They are hygienic and can be kept clean.
The girls, women and teachers are very thankful to EFL and the Promis Project.
EFL would like to send a huge thank you to Promis AS, Promis Qualify AS in Oslo for making this possible. They have provided Freedom Kits for 1000 girls in the remote areas in western Nepal since January 2018.
1000 girls have been educated about menstruation and received a packet that have made their daily life easier. This will hopefully lead to more openness towards women and menstruation. In the long run, we hope this discrimination against girls out of home during their period will end and the tabu will decrease.
We belive The Freedom Kits are one step closer to an improved life.
Meena visited and had lectures in 3 different schools;
Shree Bindeshwori Secondary School
Ramaroshan Rural Municipality 7
Sutar, Achham Nepal ;
Shree Nepal Rastriya Secondary school
Ramaroshan rural Municipality-2
Shree Parbarti secondary school.
Mangalesen Municipality -12
Chhapdanda Achham, Nepal ;