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Nepal cracks down on illegal 'menstrual huts' after deaths

Anyone in Nepal banishing women to "menstrual huts" during their periods will forfeit state benefits as well as face up to three months in jail, according to a government crackdown on the illegal practice unveiled this week after several deaths.
Under the centuries-old "chhaupadi" system, superstitious families fearing misfortune send menstruating women and girls - seen as impure - away to animal sheds or huts and bar them from touching items such as religious idols, milk and cattle.
The system was banned in 2005 in the Himalayan nation but it remains in practice in some remote areas in west Nepal.
But several recent deaths in menstrual huts sparked national outrage and led to a parliamentary investigation into the system which continues despite a law carrying three month jail terms and fines of 3,000 rupees ($26).
Kedar Nath Sharma, a spokesman for the home (interior) ministry, said the government was cracking down after the most recent death this month when Parbati Buda Rawat, 21, suffocated after lighting a fire to keep warm in a hut in Achham district.
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