A menstruation hut is a small hut in which menstruating women are forced to reside as part of cultural taboos, superstition, or religious beliefs. They are usually built near the family home, have small doors, and are often dilapidated, with poor sanitation and ventilation, and no windows. In a Nepali survey around 2017, one district with around 49,000 households had over 500 of these huts. The use of these huts is illegal in some places.
Use in various cultures
According to the tradition of chhaupadi, Nepali Hindu women are forced to reside in this small hut, there called a Chhau Goth, for 3-5 days during menstruation or postpartum periods. However, the tradition requires those menstruating for the first time to stay in the hut for a minimum of 14 days. The huts there may be made of mud and stones and may have roofs made of grass. Normally, they do not have windows, and the women must sleep on straw on the floor covering themselves with a thin blanket.
In Yap, after giving birth, women and their newborn babies spend time in a menstruation hut while the father has a holiday.
In Judaism, when a women becomes niddah (cast out during menstruation), she may remain in a niddah hut for some of the time. These huts are absent in Israel, but exist in the Ethiopian highlands. The women must stay in the hut, usually located on the margins of the village, for seven days. Women there report negative as well as positive views on the practice. Some describe fear, cold, and lack of food, while others enjoy the social interaction, relaxation, and rest. While in these huts, the women can not cook, apart from coffee and the roasting of grain. Others may bring food to them, but while doing so they take care in avoiding physical contact.
Particularly in the far and mid-western regions of Nepal, a number of deaths have been directly related to the use of these huts. Causes range from being attacked by animals, to being bitten by scorpions or snakes, to illnesses from exposure. The practice of using menstruation huts was made illegal in 2005 by Nepal's supreme court.
- An 11-year-old girl died in January 2010 stemming from diarrhea and dehydration from being kept in a menstruation hut. Both her family and neighbours refused to bring her to the hospital because they believed that they would become impure should they touch her.
- In May 2017, Lalsara Bika, a 14-year-old, died as a result of a serious cold-related illness from living in a menstruation hut.
- In July 2017, 19-year-old Tulasi Shahi died from being bitten by a snake "twice, on her head and leg," while living in a cow shed being used as a menstruation hut.
- In January 2019, Amba Bohora, a 35-year-old Nepali mother and her sons, aged 9 and 12, died of smoke inhalation while living in their menstrual hut.
- Kroeber, A. L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. Washington, D.C.
- "Female Purity (Niddah) Annotated Bibliography - Jewish Women's Archive". jwa.org. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
- Gupta, Swati. "Banished from home for menstruating, mother and two children die in Nepali hut - CNN". Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
- "Nepali woman, two children, die in outlawed 'menstruation hut'". 10 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019 – via The Economic Times.
- Media related to Menstruation huts at Wikimedia Commons