1st Edition

Menstruation in Nepal Dignity Without Danger

Edited By Sara Parker, Kay Standing, Madhusudan Subedi Copyright 2024
    286 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    286 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the complexities of menstrual beliefs and practices in Nepal. Taking an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach, it explores and promotes the rights of women, girls, and people who menstruate to a dignified and healthy menstruation.

    The volume

    • collates current research in Nepal from local academics, early career researchers, and the Dignity Without Danger research project;

    • provides a more nuanced understanding of the complex stigmas and taboos that surround menstruation;

    • highlights the importance of rethinking ideas of religion, gender, menstruation, stigma and taboos, cultural practises, and discrimination;

    • proposes a counter-narrative that places sociological studies at the heart of the discussion surrounding menstruation; and

    • calls for more collaborative action research to strengthen the links between academia and activism across disciplines.

    An authoritative contribution, the book will be of interest to scholars and researchers of gender studies, public health, sociology, human rights, South Asian studies, medical sociology, cultural studies, and social medicine, particularly for those concerned with Nepal.

    List of Figures x

    List of Tables xi

    Author Biographies xii

    Acknowledgements xxi

    1 Introduction 1

    Sara Parker, Kay Standing and Madhusudan Subedi

    2 An Overview of Menstrual Normativity in Nepal 18

    Stefanie Lotter and Neeti Aryal Khanal

    3 Sanskrit Texts and Contemporary Menstrual Taboos in South Asia 35

    Lidia Wojtczak

    4 “It Is Women’s Blood. It Is Their Curse” Continuity and Change in the Interpretation and Practice of Menstrual Exclusion across Three Generations in Nepal 45

    Mira Mishra

    5 The Politics of Breaking the Chhau Goth: The Experiences of Young Dalit Women in Achham 62

    Neeti Aryal Khanal

    6 Fluidity in Practise: Exploring Menstrual Practices in Baglung 79

    Lina Baniya and Sara Parker

    7 Society or the Law? “No Matter What Law Comes, This Society Won’t Stop Practising Chhaupadi”: A Discussion on the Causes and Implications of Menstrual Restrictions in Dailekh District 96

    Josephine McAllister, Melanie Channon, Mahesh C. Puri, Fran Amery and Jennifer Thomson

    8 From Fear to Shame: Socio-political Influences on Menstruation Practice in the Hill and Mountain Region of West Nepal 115

    Rajya Laxmi Gurung and Stefanie Lotter

    9 Issues on Menstrual Hygiene Practices, Restrictions, and Perceptions: A Need to Strengthen Menstrual Health Education 130

    Evangeline Clarke and Aditi Luitel

    10 ‘Dignity’ and ‘Freedom’ Kits: Insights into Re-usable Menstrual Pads in Nepal 145

    Sara Parker and Kay Standing

    11 Using Participatory Filmmaking with School Adolescents on Menstrual Hygiene Management in a School in the Chitwan District of Nepal 164

    Sudha Ghimire, Gyanu Maharjan, Bhimsen Devkota, Astrid T. Sinnes and Bishal K. Sitaula

    12 Menstruators with Disabilities: The Population Left Behind by Menstrual Health Management 179

    Sapana Basnet, Rose Khatri and Sarita Lamichhane

    13 In Search of Dignified Menstruation in Western Nepal: Evidence from the Field 191

    Sanna-Leena Rautanen, Pamela White and Kalpana Dishwa

    14 Dignified Menstruation and Educational Initiatives of Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management Partners’ Alliance in Nepal 206

    Guna Raj Shrestha and Ganga Ram Gautam

    15 Dignified Menstruation in Nepal and Beyond 222

    Radha Paudel, Manamaya Pangeni Bhattarai and Mili Adhikari

    16 Working Vertically and Horizontally: A Comprehensive Theoretical Framework for Addressing the Harmful Effects of Menstrual Traditions in Nepal 236

    Sara E. Baumann, Müge Finkel, Pema Lhaki and Jessica G. Burke

    17 Conclusion and the Way Forward 253

    Madhusudan Subedi, Sara Parker and Kay Standing


    Sara Parker is a Reader in Development Studies and is Principal Investigator on the British Academy Global Challenge Research Fund Sustainable Development Programme–funded project entitled Dignity Without Danger: Collaboratively Analysing Stigma and Taboos to Develop Innovative Strategies to Address Menstrual Exclusion in Nepal.

    Kay Standing is Professor in Gender Studies at Liverpool John Moore’s University, United Kingdom. She has been involved in research on gender and education in Nepal since 2003 and has published extensively in both academic and media/online publications.

    Madhusudan Subedi is a Professor of Sociology and teaches medical, public health, and nursing students at Patan Academy of Health Sciences and MA and MPhil students at the Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University, Nepal.

    “Menstruation in Nepal: Dignity without Danger, embarks on a profound journey to illuminate this essential yet often neglected aspect of women's lives. The authors bring together a rich tapestry of perspectives, combining academic insights, personal narratives, and grassroots experiences.  This book reflects the complexity of the subject matter and invites readers to engage with menstruation in a way that transcends the limitations of a singular viewpoint. It urges readers to reflect on their own preconceptions, question societal norms, and actively participate in fostering an environment where menstruation is approached with dignity, respect, and understanding.  It is a clarion call to policymakers, educators, and students to collectively engage in reshaping the narrative surrounding menstruation.”

    Professor Bindu Pokharel, Department of Gender Studies, Tribhuvan University, Nepal  

    “Very few topics are so clearly divided by gender as menstruation.  It is women who bear the burden of society’s attitudes towards menstruation in particular and to women’s bodies more generally.  The contributors highlight the important influence of religion, culture, and social stratification (caste) on the issue.  The editors must be congratulated on bringing together such a wide range of different collaborators.  It is worth remembering that culture is hard to change.  Nepal has made progress but at the same time there is still a long way to go.  I strongly recommend Menstruation in Nepal Dignity without Danger to readers interested in health and development in Nepal, those interested in culture and society in South Asia, people interested in gender and social change and others with related interests.  However, I recommend this excellent volume even stronger to men in Nepal, fathers, husbands, partners, and sons, to help them gain insight into the trials and tribulations that accompany people who menstruate in their daily lives.”

    Professor Edwin van Teijlingen, Bournemouth University, UK