An ancient, outlawed tradition in Nepal led to the death of a 15-year-old Nepalese girl after she was banished in a shed just because she was menstruating.
The secondary school student, identified as Roshani Tiruwa, reportedly lit a fire inside a small mud-and-stone hut to keep herself warm. Local authorities believe that the smoke eventually suffocated the young girl, reported the BBC.
The girl’s father discovered the body last weekend inside the hut in the village of Gajra, in Nepal’s Accham district.
According to the father, Roshani immediately went to the shed to sleep after dinner. After not showing up by late morning the following day, he decided to check on her and found her dead body.
An investigation into the teenager’s death is currently underway.
“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 was quoted by Thomson Reuters.
Investigators found that Roshani had been banished by the community to stay in the poorly-ventilated animal shed due to an ancient tradition, called Chhaupadi, which finds menstruating females as impure. The tradition, which remains practiced in some rural areas in Nepal, forces women to stay in the sheds for the duration of their period.
It is believed in some rural communities that they will suffer bad luck and misfortune if the menstruating women were not isolated. Such practice has officially been deemed illegal by the government of Nepal in 2005.
There have been several incidents, however, that indicate that the tradition continues in some areas. Some women who were kept in the sheds were reportedly found to have been killed by wild animals or raped by intruders. Many victims of the tradition also suffer from mental and physical illnesses later in life. While there are no exact figures, it is believed that Chhaupadi is still practiced by up to 95 % of families in western Nepal despite the government ban.