Nepal school expels 29 girls for `being accursed`

Last Updated: Sunday, April 25, 2010 - 14:06

Kathmandu: Less than a week after a religious leader in Iran said earthquakes were caused by women who were promiscuous and wore revealing clothes, a school in Nepal’s west has expelled 29 girls for "angering the gods" as they had begun to menstruate, a report said.

The Siddheswar Higher Secondary School in Doti, a district in farwestern Nepal, has expelled 29 girl students from its hostel because they had begun to menstruate, the Naya Patrika daily reported.

"The gods were angered (by the menstruating students) and began inflicting the others too with hysteria," the hostel in-charge reportedly said. "So we had to expel them."

Matisara Belawar, an eighth grader, had been staying in the hostel since last year, the tabloid said. Being differently abled, she was sent to the hostel so that she would not have to walk for long distances to go to school.

"After we went home during the vacation, we were sent word that we should not return," she said. "How will I be able to continue my studies now?"

Five years after it was banned, Nepal continues to adhere to the infamous "chhaupadi" custom, a tradition that regards menstruating women to be accursed and unholy.

In many families even today, they are not allowed to live in the house but have to stay in a cowshed outside.

Girls are not allowed to go to school or even take a bath. The superstitious continue to believe that if a menstruating woman touches a tree or man, they will die.

Though five years ago Nepal’s Supreme Court banned the custom and asked the government to make laws, it is still widely practised, especially in the western districts.

Women activists have urged the government to prevent state-run schools from forcing women teachers to stay at home during menstruation but to no avail.

The report also said that the school still follows the custom of offering goat sacrifices to the gods to "atone" for the sin of girls attending class during menstruation.

IANS



First Published: Sunday, April 25, 2010 - 14:06

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