Ganga Kumal stays at her home even during her menstruation.


Ganga Kumal, a 38-year-old woman, resides in Ward No.6, Sanphebagar, Achham District with her three children while her husband works in Mumbai, India. Since their farm produce is not enough to feed her family, they depend on the remittance that her husband sends, without which they would be without food and other provisions. Life often feels precarious for Ganga.

Ganga has a bitter experience of staying in Chaugoth during her periods.

“In Chaugoth, we always slept crowded with our legs huddled up from lack of space. Sometimes, many menstruating women came into the hut; and that made for sleepless nights,” she said. “We were never given nutritious food during menstruation. We were compelled to take our small children to the temporary hut outside our house during menstruation. It was always a very difficult time for us,”

These are the problems not only of Ganga. What she faced is faced by all of the women who follow the Chhaupadi tradition in Achham District.

“Some years ago, Mastamandu was declared a Chhaupadi Free village. Due to external peer pressure, I stayed at home during menstruation. I thought it was wrong to stay at home during menstruation, and so I returned to Chaugoth again. I was not allowed to use the toilet during menstruation and I went to open places for defecation,” she said. Now, Ganga and her daughter live at home during their menstruation and have abandoned Chhaupadi practices. “Awareness and interactions” (changed my behavior), said Ganga. “I participated in one of the activities organized by SEBAC-Nepal on Chhaupadi behavior change. The discussion during the program opened my eyes,” she says. People’s behaviors and attitudes cannot be changed by imposing new ideas and exerting pressure. Changes achieved through artificial means are short-lived. For long-term and sustainable change, people have to freely accept the new ideas and be willing to internalize the value of the change. The change in Ganga’s life was gradual, and now it looks natural.