Taking a serious note of the complaint by a local NGO against a "sexist" practice which banishes tribal women from villages during menses, National Human Rights Commission has sought reply from Maharashtra government on the issue.
"The office of the NHRC has asked Maharashtra chief secretary to submit report within four weeks regarding this age-old practice," said Dilip Barsagade, President of NGO 'Sparsh'.
The NGO had urged NHRC to intervene in preventing the "gaokor" practice saying the tradition makes life of tribal women miserable.
Gaokar is a thatched hut usually set up on the outskirts of villages where women have to stay in isolation for five days during their menstruation cycle. The women and young girls are banned from moving in their respective village so that others do not get "contaminated".
"As per the practice, even if one happens to see the women he/she has to take bath for purification. Meals are provided to women at a distance and they are forced to live in very unhygienic and pathetic conditions sans electricity and other basic facilities during menses," Barsagade had said in his letter to NHRC.
This practice is followed among tribals, especially of Gond and Madia tribes, in Gadchiroli district.
He stated that menstruation was a natural phenomenon but the tradition tantamount to "untouchability".
"Most of these Gaokors are located away from villages and are adjacent to forests. They are not even guarded by doors. Women have to sleep on floor," said Barsagade who works as a lecturer in a social work college.
Barsagade said he recently received a copy of the letter issued by NHRC to state chief secretary.
"Union ministry of Tribal Affairs has also written a letter to tribal development department secretary of Maharashtra government on July 23, responding to the memorandum sent by 'Sparsh'. The Maharashtra Governor has also written a special letter to district collector seeking his report on this issue," Barsagade said.
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