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Snake bite kills teen banished to ‘menstruation hut’

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    An 18-year-old Nepalese girl banished to a shed while she was menstruating as part of an ancient cultural practice, died after being bitten by a snake.

    Tulasi Shahi was bitten twice by a venomous snake and died on Friday morning in Nepal’s western Dailekh district, according to local media reports.

    “She survived for seven hours after the snake bite but died because medical treatment was delayed,” Local Mayor Surya Bahadur Shahi told AFP.

    The victim’s family reportedly took her to the village shaman for treatment instead of transporting her to a hospital.

    Police have confirmed the death but did not provide further details.  

    Chhaupadi is an ancient Hindu practice which banishes women to huts or cowsheds during menstruation. It was outlawed by the Nepal Supreme Court in 2005, however, is still practiced in parts of the country.

    The Himalayan Times wrote in May that, despite the common belief it’s confined to remote areas of the country, it’s practiced in cities as well.

    Women are ostracised during this time, prevented from normal family activities and from having contact with men during their periods as they’re deemed  “impure” and “untouchable.”

    Two women died at the end of 2016 in separate incidents linked to the custom. A 15-year-old girl died of smoke inhalation after she lit a fire for warmth after being banished to a shed. The other woman’s cause of death is not known.

    Pragya Lamsal, a development professional in Nepal who advocates against the chhaupadi practice, says the exact number of deaths associated with the practice is not known.

    “In many cases, I have found that law enforcement agencies and local administration treat taboos and stigma surrounding menstruation as a private family issue. But it’s not. It is a legal issue,” Lamsal said.

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