“Impure”

Women banished to huts to have their periods in parts of India

A woman carries empty waterpots to fill drinking water in a village in India's Maharashtra state. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

If bloating and cramps during your period are challenging enough, steer clear of certain parts of India next time you’re menstruating. In some tribal areas of the country, women are forced to spend the “impure” time of their period in sparse huts called gaokors set on the fringes of their villages. Many of the huts lack running water and beds. They tend not to have kitchens as women are considered dirty while menstruating and are not permitted to cook. Women and girls banished to the huts have little to do but wait until their periods are over, often alone, relying on family to bring them sustenance.

Gaokors are common in the Gond and Madiya ethnic groups. The Gonds, a large group in central India, are prevalent in the states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.

In September, the National Human Rights Commission called for the Maharashtra government to eradicate the practice of using gaokors, calling it “a serious violation of human rights.”

Girls are forced to miss school and exams when sent to the huts, making it difficult for them to maintain their educations.

Some groups are trying to spread teaching that menstruation is a natural process, and social media campaigns like #FreeToBleed have popped up, but progress is slow.

“I feel extremely bad that for five days I cannot even touch the utensils of my own kitchen. But what can we do? We have to follow our tradition and customs,” Satisheela Haridas, 23, from Sitatola told the Guardian.

Read the full story at the Guardian.

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