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The Practice of ‘Chhaupadi’

The Maila village in Humla is one of the most geographically remote villages across the entirety of Nepal. Maila is difficult to access due to the lack of infrastructure, which in turn, means that many families in Maila have limited access to healthcare, educational services and opportunities exchange agricultural produce outside of the village. Chhaupadi is a traditional practice carried out in the Humla region of Nepal, which prohibits women from giving birth in family homes or health post facilities. Instead Chhaupadi demands that women, in villages like Maila, must give birth alone in animal sheds. During this time, women are also prevented from any essential nutritional food consumption or any interaction with their family members. The animal sheds are often very cold, unhygienic and dangerous for women to give birth in. Once women are in labour, they are alone; community health workers are restricted access to support the Nepali women giving birth.

In order to support government efforts to restrict the Chhaupadi practice in Humla, PHASE launched a community health programme in 2007 to target villages like Maila. PHASE health workers, in partnership with the District Health Office, have worked to increase the awareness of the health dangers of unsupported child delivery. Additionally, PHASE Health workers have been supporting women in overcoming traditions by encouraging them to refuse the traditions of Chhaupadi and strengthen their voices within their communities. Today, as part of PHASE’s health work, Auxillary Nurse Midwives are trained to handle street dramas and tensions that arise regarding Chhaupadi. No projects are directly devoted to supporting government work to discourage the practice of Chhaupadi, but it is touched on in many of our healthcare projects and healthcare training.

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In the Karnali Pradesh province of Nepal, Humla is the most northern district with a population of around 50, 858 people. It is an entirely rural municipality, with only one major road network.

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