But she still got drenched

Now here’s a story of cis privilege. Girls in Nepal are banished when they are menstruating; they have to sleep outside in skimpy sheds without walls. What about during monsoon season? Well they get wet, of course.

Where do these ideas come from?

Ancient Hindu scriptures say women are highly infectious during their periods, that “all her body is so weak that viruses come out of her mouth and her limbs,” says Mukunda Aryal, who has studied Hindu culture for 40 years.

In Hinduism, there was once a king of the gods, who reigned above others. This god, called Indra, committed a horrible sin. And to atone for it, he created menstruation.

You what? He committed a sin, and to atone for it, he created menstruation? What the hell is the logic of that? Let alone the fairness? He created a sin, so girls and women have to have obnoxious cramping in their lower abdomens every month, and have a lot of gross clumpy blood (that is, endometrial tissue) to deal with? In what sense is it atonement to create an unpleasant inconvenient uncomfortable situation for other people?

The NPR reporters, Jane Greenhalgh and Michaeleen Doucleff, visit one menstrual shed.

It’s about a ten minute walk. It’s starting to get dark, and she doesn’t have a flashlight. “I’m scared mostly of snakes and of men,” she says through translator, Pragya Lamsal of WaterAid. Kamala has heard stories of girls being sexually assaulted when they’re alone in their sheds.

Her shed is shocking. It looks more like a cage — with wooden bars crisscrossed over the top and sides. It’s monsoon season and the rain is torrential. Kamala has a piece of plastic to drape across the top of her shed but she still got drenched.

Kamala was 11 when she first started her period and she remembers being terrified when she first slept outside. The shed is small, barely big enough for her to lie down and sometimes she shares it with 2 or 3 or more girls and so for most of the night they squat.

“I don’t feel good about practicing this,” Kamala says.

The Supreme Court of Nepal outlawed the practice in 2005 so it’s illegal to force women into these sheds, but many villagers in the remote west continue to do it.

Oh well, it’s only girls and women.

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