Nepal’s parliament on Wednesday criminalised an ancient Hindu practice that banishes women from the home during menstruation.

(TH) Many communities in Nepal view menstruating women as impure and in some remote areas they are forced to sleep in a hut away from home during their periods, a custom known as chhaupadi.

The new law stipulates a three-month jail sentence or a ₹2,000 fine, or both, for anyone forcing a woman to follow the custom.

“A woman during her menstruation or post-natal state should not kept in chhaupadi or treated with any kind of similar discrimination or untouchable and inhumane behaviour,” reads the law, passed in an unanimous vote.

It will only come into effect in a year’s time.

Chhaupadi is linked to Hinduism and considers women untouchable when they menstruate, as well as after childbirth.

They are banished from the home — barred from touching food, religious icons, cattle and men — and forced to sleep in basic huts known as chhau goth.

Deaths During Ritual

Last month, a teenage girl died after being bitten by a snake while sleeping in a chhau goth.

Two other women died in late 2016 in separate incidents while also following the ritual — one of smoke inhalation after she lit a fire for warmth, while the other death was unexplained.

Rights activists say many other deaths likely go unreported.

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