A 23-year-old woman in Nepal was today found dead at an isolated hut where she was left alone as part of a long-banned ancient Hindu practice that banishes women from the home during menstruation, a media report said. Many communities in Nepal view menstruating women as impure and in some remote areas they are forced to sleep in a hut away from home during their periods, a custom known as "Chhaupadi". Police said that Gauri Bayak (Budha) was found dead by her neighbours inside the Chhaupadi hut (menstruation hut) yesterday at Turmakhad Rural Municipality-3 in Achham district, The Kathmandu Post reported. "The cause of her death will be known after post-mortem," Deputy Superintendent of Police Dadhiram Neupane said. Villagers suspect that Gauri might have died of smoke suffocation from the fire she had lit to keep herself warm inside the hut. "Gauri had lit a fire inside the hut.
She might have died in her sleep due to smoke inhalation," said Ujir Bayak, a villager. The government in August last year declared the practice as a criminal offence and introduced a law that stipulated a three-month jail sentence and/or Rs 3,000 fine against those convicted of "Chhaupadi" crime. Despite the law and campaigns, the tradition is still rampant in some remote parts of the country. Last year, a 21-year-old woman and a 15-year-old girl had died in similar circumstances.