Talking about periods is something that’s considered taboo, to varying degrees, across the world. But in Nepal, some communities have traditionally kept women and girls isolated and apart while they’re menstruating. Add poor education and lack of access to sanitary products to the mix, and Nepali women and girls can find that time of the month more of a pain than it already is for all women. But, a number of steps from the Nepali government and initiatives from non-governmental organisations are working to eradicate this dangerous period shaming.
In many parts of Nepal, but particularly in the remote far-western region, some communities isolate women and girls while they’re menstruating, as they’re considered unclean. This practice, called Chhaupadi, can, directly and indirectly, lead to a huge range of problems, including missing school, humiliation and even injuries, rape and death. At ‘best’, women may be allowed to stay inside their homes at this time but will be unable to touch other people or prepare food or enter the kitchen; at worst, they have to stay in a small hut by themselves (or with other menstruating women) while they bleed.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Aside from the personal fear of being considered unclean and attracting the wrath of God through breaking menstrual taboos, these practices continue because of societal pressure. Even if individual women or families don’t want to comply with the practice of isolation, the fear of being shunned by other people in the community, of getting a bad reputation or having people refuse to visit their home, stops many people from breaking these restrictive traditions.
Chhaupadi was banned by the Supreme Court in 2005, but it continued. Partly due to the isolation of many communities with a lack of external law enforcement and partly because law enforcement considered this a private matter.
In 2017, the government went a step further and crimialised Chhaupadi. The new law was part of a wider bill intended to improve the safety of women in Nepal. Anyone enforcing Chhaupadi will face a three-month jail sentence and a fine of NPR 3,000. While this only translates to about US $30, this is quite a large sum for many Nepalis.
These laws haven’t been, and won’t be, strictly enforced for the first year, as it has been recognised that greater education and more awareness campaigns need to be rolled out first.
Changing practices and encouraging period positivity
Another problem with encouraging women and girls to remain active in their everyday lives while on their periods is the lack of hygiene products that they feel comfortable using. Even if, and when, women can be encouraged not to practice such extreme exclusion, daily practicalities while on their periods are awkward. Due to the cost and availability of products such as pads and tampons, these are not preferred items, especially in rural areas. Normally, Nepali women use rags and wads of cotton while menstruating. But, these can be difficult to clean and change throughout the day, if women need to go outside.
Menstrual cups are a convenient alternative. These rubber or silicone cups are worn internally while menstruating; they’re discreet, washable, environmentally friendly and very economical because they’re reusable for up to ten years.
‘Ruby Cup’ menstrual cups were launched by organisation, Putali Nepal, in mid-2017 at a gathering in Kathmandu, along with extensively detailed user guides for new users. Ruby Cups have been documented to have significantly improved the lives of women and girls who use them in Kenya, and Putali (which means butterfly in Nepali) hopes that similar improvements can be achieved in Nepal.
It’s not the first time that the use of menstrual cups has been encouraged in Nepal, but the coordination of Putali Nepal’s efforts with the change in law and enforcement will hopefully mean that greater benefits can come about. At the same time as the launch of the Ruby Cup, Putali launched a comic book − called ‘Menstrupedia’ − that educates girls about periods in an entertaining way. The book has been made available in English and Nepali.
The key to ending harmful period shaming, ultimately, is not changing or enforcing laws (although this may help). The key is educating young Nepalis to treat periods as a natural process that is nothing to be embarrassed about and providing them with the tools to follow through on this belief.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.