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Society

It's Time For Nepal To Face Its Cruel Menstruation Taboo

Nepal outlawed forced isolation for menstruating women nearly two decades ago. But the practice continues, threatening the ability of many women to lead a normal life.

SUDURPASCHIM, NEPAL — Earlier this year, at the beginning of March, Sirjana woke up with a bad stomachache. It was near midnight, and the village — clusters of houses, about four dozen or so, sprinkled on the side of a hill, separated by terraced fields — was still. As per custom, the toilet was located outside the house, so she drowsily stumbled out of bed to use it. That’s when she realized she’d started her period. She froze, unable to re-enter her house.

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Tibetan Refugees In Nepal: A Different Kind Of Identity Crisis

Shunned by the Nepal government, young Tibetans struggle to find work, travel overseas, and open bank accounts. One asks, “Who are we?”

KATHMANDU, NEPAL — Tenzin’s grandparents fled Tibet for Nepal long before he was born. His father died when he was 1, leaving his mother to support six children. Because she wasn’t a citizen, no one would hire her. Still, she built a small souvenir business because she had a government-issued refugee card.

Tenzin, 32, doesn’t have a refugee card. In fact, he has no identity document.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, young Tibetan refugees and Tibetans born in Nepal are not recognized by the government, leaving them in a limbo that has profound implications both personally and professionally.

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"Let It Be A Son": How Nepal Culture Pushes Women To Abort Girls

In a culture that can see girls as a burden, many women opt to abort their female fetuses — even though it's illegal.

SARLAHI, NEPAL — In the fourth month of her pregnancy, Indu found out she was carrying a girl. That night, she couldn’t sleep and kept crying. She chose to have an abortion, even though it’s illegal in Nepal to terminate a pregnancy after 12 weeks. If she were to have a seventh child, it needed to be a boy.

The desire to have a son is so strong in some parts of Nepal that it leads women like Indu to secretly terminate their pregnancies after finding out the sex of the fetus – either in a close-by town, or across the border in neighboring India. The decision is often one of economic necessity. Sons, especially in more rural regions, are considered financial assets who can contribute to a struggling family. But the illicit abortions, sometimes done in dangerous circumstances, often jeopardize the life of the woman. They’re also skewing the ratio of newborns, threatening to affect future population growth.

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Scholz In Kyiv, Canada Trucker Blockade Ends, Valentine For Your Ex

👋Yáʼátʼééh!*

Welcome to Monday, where German Chancellor Sholz goes to Kyiv and then Moscow to try to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine, the trucker blockade has ended at the U.S.-Canada border and we’ve got one perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your ex. For weekly news magazine Jeune Afrique, Eva Sauphie reports on the women flipping the conversation on sexuality in West Africa.

[*Navajo]

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Martin Bader

Ancient Menstrual Quarantines Still Oppress Women In Nepal

Last year, the Nepalese government outlawed the chhaupadi tradition that bans certain activities on menstruating women. But little has changed.

KATHMANDU — When Binita had her first period, she knew what she had to do. Growing up in the mountainous district of Gorkha in central Nepal, she had observed how her mother and every other female family member changed their behavior when they had their period: They slept in different rooms, were not allowed to touch water, food or male family members, couldn't enter the kitchen and couldn't take part in religious ceremonies.

Much has changed in Binita's life since her teenage years. She's now 37 years old, married with two teenage sons and lives in an apartment on the outskirts of the capital, Kathmandu.

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blog
Bertrand Hauger

Light My Pyre

My trip to Nepal was definitely one of the most dépaysants, as we say here in France. This open-air cremation in front of Kathmandu"s famous Pashupatinath Temple was certainly not a sight a Western traveler like me is used to seeing.

blog

Burning Faith

The villages and landscapes, the colors and fauna, old people and young — in my experience, few countries can rival Nepal as a photographic subject. Here is one flickering moment of prayer passing at a Buddhist temple in Kathmandu.

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blog

Cheeky Shiva

There are Hindu deities everywhere you look along the streets of the Nepalese capital. Here, wood-carved figures of Shiva and Parvati keep an eye on Kathmandu's Durbar Square. Notice Shiva's strategically placed left hand.

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blog

Life By The Mountain

About a hundred kilometers south of the Himalaya mountain range, the village of Chobhar is a far cry from the country's bustling and polluted capital, Kathmandu.

Geopolitics
Rajan Parajuli

Can Nepal's War Victims Ever Get Justice?

A truth and reconciliation commission is investigating crimes committed during Nepal's decade-long internal conflict (1996-2006) between state security forces and Maoist rebels.

KATHMANDU — Deepak Hamal's father was abducted by Maoist rebels one evening in 2004 when he was at home having dinner with his wife. His body was found the next day near a walking trail in their village.

Hamal was getting his master's degree in the capital city of Kathmandu at the time. "When I got home, the whole village had gathered there. But everyone was afraid to touch the body because there were a few improvised grenades nearby," Hamal, now 36, says.

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Geopolitics
Caroline Christinaz

Home Base, A Village Of Sherpas Deep In The Himalayas

THAME — A small man appears behind us. "Namaste," he murmurs in a quiet voice. He calls himself "Ang Tshering Sherpa," before asking, "Do you want some tea?" His house was destroyed by an earthquake last year, and was just renovated, but he still lives with his daughter next door.

At 3,820 meters, the gray sky serves as the canvas for for the lethargic flight paths of crows. A few hours walk from Namche Baazar, the traditional home village for mountain guides, Thame is maintained to perfection: well-cut thick green grass, shingled wales encircle freshly renovated houses, crystal clear creak water. Even the yaks have a certain shine.

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