A 14-year-old named Roshani Tiruwa died sometime on Friday night in a Nepali chhaupadi, the name for a small hut women are sent to when they begin their periods.
Aljazeera reports that Tiruwa’s body was found late the next day after she hadn’t been seen all morning. Her father called to her from outside the hut to no avail. Then, he told the Nepalese newspaper, My Republica, “We saw her dead body.”
The Hindu tradition of separating menstruating women from the family was banned by the Supreme Court over a decade ago, but it persists, particularly in the remote villages. This is supposedly because many local leaders are reluctant to enforce the ban, though some women have burnt such huts and declared entire villages “chhaupadi-free zones.” However, a report from the U.N. in 2011 indicates that around 95% of the women in the Achham district still follow the practice.
A local inspector named Badri Prasad Dhakal told AFP news agency that Tiruwa likely suffocated after lighting a fire to keep herself warm. In a piece for Jezebel, writer Rose George described the many perils facing women spending their nights menstruating in chhaupadi. During their periods, women are supposed to eat nothing but boiled rice and are not allowed to touch or be touched, yet many are still subjected to sexual violence while separated from their family in the menstruation huts. They are also vulnerable to the elements and wild animals, including poisonous snakes.
Tiruwa was on the third day of her period at the time of her death.