Every normal, healthy young woman goes through a menstrual cycle each month. Most of us dread getting our “period.” We understand that it usually means several days of dealing with cramps, bloating, fatigue, and a general feeling of the “blahs.” Having your monthly period is simply no fun. If you are a menstruating female living in and around Nepal, however, it is also lonely and terrifying.

 

In addition to the physical ailments that having a monthly period brings, these young women are forced into isolation for one week out of every month. From the time they first begin menstruating, they have to walk 10 to 15 minutes on foot away from their homes and families and must retreat to a small shed in the woods. They are often alone, completely isolated, and vulnerable to outside forces.

 

Women in Nepal are exiled from their homes during their menstrual cycles.

In the Hindu culture, it is traditional to treat women this way because they believe the menstrual period makes her unclean and impure. She is therefore banned from being around other people, including her family. This is true even if there are special festivities taking place during the time of her cycle. This Hindu practice is called “Chaupadi,” and one woman is fighting to change it.

 

Photographer Poulomi Basi knows these traditions all too well and has been quietly working to change the traditions that plague the women in the western Nepal region. She believes these cultural restrictions “are used as forces to bring women to subservience and control them.” She is striving to bring awareness of the mistreatment of women through Chaupadi, and ultimately hopes to see the practice come to an end.

 

These women live in a patriarchal society where they have no choice but to simply do as they are told. Basu intends to be their “voice” through her words and pictures that speak volumes about their plight.

 

What do you think of young women forced into isolation because of their menstrual cycle? Let’s talk about it here or on Twitter @lcarterwriter.