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Woman and sons die after she was forced into hut during her period

Woman and her sons die after she was forced to stay in a freezing hut while she was on her period due to Nepalese tradition

  • The family died overnight in the freezing remote Nepalese village on Wednesday
  • As part of a Hindu custom of isolating menstruating women they are put in huts
  • Officials believe they died of smoke inhalation after they lit small fire for warmth 
  • The practice was banned in 2005 but continues despite the risk of jail or fines

A woman and her two sons died in a freezing hut in a remote Nepalese village after the mother was exiled during her period.

Amba Bohara, 35, and her sons, aged seven and nine, were found by her sister-in-law in the cramped shed next to their home on Wednesday morning.

Officials believe they died from smoke inhalation after lighting a fire to keep warm in the frigid mountains.

The mother was forced into the hut during her period under the Hindu custom of Chhaupadi which deems women to be ‘impure,’ for its duration. 

Menstruating women are exiled to unhygienic huts or cow sheds for the duration of their cycle as they are deemed impure

A woman sits on her phone in a Chhaupadi hut (file photo), in winter the women face dangerously low temperatures

On Tuesday night Bohara fed their cattle and then gathered firewood before taking her children to the hut as she began her period.

The following morning her sister-in-law saw smoke billowing through a gap in the door as she brought Bohara a cup of tea, according to the New York Times

She opened the hut to find Bohara and her sons with foam spewing from their mouths and their clothes charred by the fire.

Her husband, who works as a manual labourer, said: ‘This has broken my heart.’

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The hut had space that was barely enough for three people.

An investigating team has reached Budhinanda, about 400 kilometers (250 miiles) northwest of the capital, Kathmandu. 

The Bajura District chief administrator Chetraj Baral said he is consulting with government lawyers on whether to press charges against the family.

The bodies were sent to a nearby town hospital for an autopsy.

Following the incident, the government is planning to send officials to the area again to educate residents about the practice, he said.

The practice was banned by the Supreme Court in 2005 and a new law criminalized it last year, with violators who force women into exile during menstruation facing up to three months in prison or a fine of 3,000 Nepalese rupees (£23).

Many menstruating women are still forced to leave their homes and take shelter in unhygienic or insecure huts or cow sheds until their cycle ends.

During their period women are not allowed to enter the temple, use kitchen utensils or wash in communal areas, SBS reported. 

The custom continues in many parts of the majority Hindu Himalayan country, especially in the western hills.

While exiled in isolation, some women face bitter cold or attacks by wild animals.

Unclean conditions can also cause infections. They also face possibility of sexual assaults.

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