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Woman, 21, exiled to a freezing outdoor hut in Nepal because she was menstruating dies after lighting fire to keep warm

  • The woman, 21, was exiled to the freezing hut because she was deemed unclean
  • She had to endure the cold even though the practice of ostracising women suffering from periods is supposed to be banned 
  • The dead woman is the latest to die in harsh 'menstrual hut' conditions  

A woman has died in a remote village in Nepal because of a tradition in which women are exiled from their homes and forced to live in huts during menstruation, a government official said Friday.

The 21-year-old is believed to have died from smoke inhalation from a fire she lit in the hut to keep warm in the freezing temperatures in the mountain village, government administrator Tul Bahadur Kawcha said.

The woman was found dead on Monday.  

Women suffering periods are in some areas exiled to cold and cramped 'menstrual huts'

Women suffering periods are in some areas exiled to cold and cramped 'menstrual huts'

Many communities in Nepal view menstruating women as impure and in some remote areas they are forced to sleep in a hut away from home during their periods

Many communities in Nepal view menstruating women as impure and in some remote areas they are forced to sleep in a hut away from home during their periods

Two women recently died while following chhaupadi - one of smoke inhalation after she lit a fire for warmth, while the other death is unexplained. Pictured, women sit outside the huts

At least two women died last year while following the practice known as chhaupadi

These incidents have spurred fresh impetus to end the practice, which is not yet criminalised. Pictured Ms Giri looks at her phone as she wraps up warm in the hut

Menstruating women in winter often have to endure extremely cold conditions in the huts

The death occurred even though lawmakers last year passed a law criminalising the  practice that forces menstruating women from their homes.

Under the law anyone who enforces the custom faces a three-month jail sentence and a $30 fine.

The practice, known as chhaupadi, has been in the spotlight after at least two women died last year while sleeping in sheds.

Campaigners say the legislation must be properly enforced in addition to a change of attitude in remote rural areas.   

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

While exiled in isolation, some women face bitter cold or attacks by wild animals. Unclean conditions can also cause infections.

Women who have their periods or who have just given birth are sometimes seen as impure or as bringers of bad luck.  

They are forbidden from touching cattle and men, denied access to communal food and are usually prevented from using toilet and washing facilities.

Their exile to 'menstrual huts' often means that they are also unable to go to school.

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