Posted without comment. (OK, one comment: god in heaven!) From guardian.com (emphasis added):
For five consecutive days each month, Sofalta Rokaya leaves the bed in her home in western Nepal to sleep among her family’s cows. The stone shed they share is dark and filthy, freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer, and littered with hay, muck, insects and dung.
Sofalta, 16, was terrified to tell her parents once she started menstruating. “[It] would mean staying in the cowshed, and I didn’t know if I could do it,” she says. “I feel horrible here – the cow dung smells and the animals step on us. The dirt and hay get stuck all over my body.
“I wish that I didn’t have a period.”
Sofalta is one of thousands of girls and women in Nepal who practice Chhaupadi – banishment to a cattle shed or makeshift hut – because of so-called “impurity” during menstruation or just after childbirth. Chhaupadi dictates what a woman can eat, where she can sleep, with whom she can interact, where she can go, and whom she can touch while she is menstruating. Sofalta is not allowed to enter her house, cook, touch her parents, go to temple or school, or eat anything but salted bread or rice as long as she is in the shed.
The beliefs behind Chhaupadi – which are linked to Hindu religion – decree that a woman who disobeys these diktats can bring destruction and death to her family. If she touches a crop, it wilts; if she fetches water, the well dries up; if she picks fruit, it doesn’t ripen.
“If we stay in the house [instead of the shed], we get ill because our deities don’t approve of it,” explains Gita Rokaya, another woman from Sofalta’s mountainous village of Sanigaun, in the western district of Jumla.