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Teenage girl dies after being banished to shed for menstruating

The Independent logo The Independent 20/12/2016 Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
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A 15-year-old girl has died in Nepal after she was banished to a shed outside her family home because she was menstruating.

The girl, who is understood to have suffocated from the smoke of a fire she lit to keep warm, was identified by local media as Roshani Tiruwa from the country’s western Achram district, Al Jazeera reports.

Badri Prasad Dhajal, a local inspector, told AFP: “We are investigating the case. We suspect that she died of suffocation from the smoke of a fire she lit to keep herself warm.”

The girl had reportedly been sleeping in a “chhaupadi shed”, a hut outside of the family home where women and girls are sent during their menstruation in the belief that they are impure.

Roshani’s father told My Republica the girl had eaten at around 6pm before going inside the shed to sleep. When she did not appear the next morning, he called to her from outside the shed.

“Then we saw her dead body,” he told the publication. “As it was her holiday on Saturday, we thought she had gone to jungle to collect firewood.”

My Republica reported this is the second Chhaupadi-related death in the area in the space of a month.

Chhaupadi has been a banned practice in Nepal since 2005 but many areas still implement the Hindu custom, which forbids women from having contact with men during their menstruation as well as touching certain objects or foods.

Women subjected to chhaupadi are at risk of health problems, including pneumonia, and of sexual assault, during their menstruation, due to the conditions they are subjected to, according to the United Nations. It is also blamed for prolonged depression, young women’s deaths and high infant mortality rates.

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