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Menstruating women are banished to sheds under Chhaupadi. Pic/AFP
Nepal has criminalised an ancient Hindu tradition under which females are banished to animal sheds during their period to keep impurity out of the home, a lawmaker said on Thursday.
The practice - called "Chhaupadi" - was banned by the Supreme Court in 2005, but remains prevalent in Nepal's remote west, where women and girls are ousted from the home each month and must live in seclusion in mud sheds for days. They are also not permitted to drink milk and are given less to eat until their period ends.
Their exclusion leaves them at risk of rape by men and attacks by wild animals. "The parliament has a passed a new law that makes Chhaupadi a criminal act," said Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, who headed a parliamentary panel that finalised the legislation.
"Anyone forcing women into seclusion during their period can now be sentenced to three months in jail." Pokharel said the law would come into force within a year as authorities want to foster awareness before enforcing a crackdown.
The centuries-old custom has led to the death of several girls and women during their banishment.
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