Snapshots of stigma and seclusion:

Girls in Nepal work with WaterAid to highlight menstrual taboos

May 23 2016

A fascinating glance into a hidden world is revealed in photos taken by seven teenage girls in Nepal that document the restrictions imposed on them when they are on their period. The project is part of a campaign by the international nonprofit, WaterAid, to challenge menstrual taboos and call for improved sanitation for women everywhere.

These touching photos document the intimate rituals of daily life, and how the girls are excluded from it when they are on their period. Daily habits such as eating with family members, sleeping at home, looking in the mirror or at the sun, and even touching fruit, flowers or male relatives are all forbidden for girls during their period because women are considered ‘impure’ or ‘contaminated’ while menstruating.

Girls with cameras

The stigma that surrounds periods in countries across the world, including Nepal, are compounded by limited access to water, good sanitation and hygiene, which has a detrimental impact on girls’ education, mental and physical health and wellbeing.

This was the first time the girls from a small rural village in Sindhuli, Nepal, had ever used a camera, and they proudly exhibited their work in the community to help facilitate open discussion around menstrual taboos.

A study by WaterAid found that over half (53%) of girls in Nepal miss school during their periods. The organization is working in schools and communities across the country to improve girls’ ability to manage their periods through better access to water, toilets and sanitary supplies as well as dispelling the myths that shroud periods. This, in turn, helps women’s advancement in society, improves women’s health and self-esteem, and helps keep girls in school in a country where 58% of women are unable to read or write.

WaterAid has released the powerful pictures to mark Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, and the organization’s ongoing efforts to help women and girls achieve the dignity they deserve.