15-year-old girl in Nepal dies after being banished to mud hut for menstruating

A 15-year-old girl in Nepal was found dead in a shed that she was banished to because she was menstruating.

According to the BBC, the girl, who was identified as Roshani Tiruwa, had reportedly suffocated to death after lighting a fire to keep warm inside the poorly-ventilated mud-and-stone hut.

Her body was found by her father last weekend inside the hut in the village of Gajra, in the Accham district which is over 400km west of Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

He said that Roshani had gone into the shed to sleep after having her evening meal. When she was not seen by late morning the next day, he gave her a call from outside.

"Then we saw her dead body," he recounted to Nepalese newspaper My Republica.

Nepalese police have launched an investigation into the secondary school student's death. "While we are waiting for the post-mortem report for the cause of her death, we believe she died due to suffocation," police inspector Badri Prasad Dhakal told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Roshani had been staying in the hut due to an ancient tradition in parts of rural Nepal, in which menstruating girls and women are seen as impure and banished to animal sheds for the duration of their period.

Photo: Reuters

Some rural communities believe that they will suffer misfortune such as a natural disaster unless menstruating women are isolated, the BBC reported.

The practice, known as Chhaupadi, was officially outlawed by Nepal's government in 2005. However, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported that there have been reports of women dying in wild animal attacks or being raped when they are secluded in these sheds, indicating that the archaic tradition still continues in the country's remote western areas.

The incident is the second Chhaupadi-related death to occur in Accham over the past month. On November 19, a 26-year-old woman was also found dead in a menstrual hut outside her home, NPR reported.

According to Human Rights Watch, it is believed that Chhaupadi is still practiced by up to 95 per cent of families in western Nepal, and eight women and girls in Accham have died due to the practice since 2007.