A young girl in India died alone in a hut during a deadly cyclone after she was forced to sleep there separately because she was on her period.
The 14-year-old victim, identified as S. Vijayalakshmi, was trapped in the isolated hut called the gaokor when cyclone Gaja made landfall in the southern state of Tamil Nadu on November 16.
She was among the 46 people who died in the coastal state that day, according to BBC. Over 80,000 hectares of farmland across 12 different districts were also destroyed during the powerful typhoon.
All the other members of the girl’s family survived the storm as they were safe inside their house, which was not too far from the hut.
According to the teen’s grandmother, they were unable to rescue her because a coconut tree that fell on the hut made it impossible to reach her.
She explained that while the family was aware that a storm was approaching, they have nowhere else to keep her since they lived far from the rest of the village.
“I told them to take her to a different place. But within hours, the cyclone had struck and we couldn’t move anywhere,” she was quoted as saying.
“We are shattered. When we saw the tree, we lost hope. We waited for villagers to help us remove the tree and pull her out of the hut.”
The girl was rushed to the hospital after the storm has subsided but the doctors declared her dead on arrival.
Banishment of menstruating women to an outhouse for days is an ancient Hindu tradition which is still being practiced in some communities.
The controversial practice, which is based on the traditional belief that women are impure during their periods, has been widely condemned by activists and concerned groups which consider it as a “serious violation of the human rights of women.”
In response, local officials in the regions that still practice the tradition have initiated moves to improve the conditions of the gaokors, but not to end it.
The subject was featured in an award-winning Hindi short film “Gaokor– A Period House” earlier this year.
Featured image via YouTube/Mathrubhumi News