Dorothy Khan (Nepal)

Dorothy Khan received her MS in Global Affairs from New York University, graduating with a concentration in Human Rights and International Law. She conducted field research on both registered and unregistered Rohingya women in the refugee camps of Bangladesh. During the summer of 2015, she traveled to Iraq to implement a self-designed project, aimed at empowering youth in the Duhok region of Iraq to become local community peace builders. In addition, she previously worked with urban refugees in South Africa, aiding them in navigating through difficult legal issues as they formally applied for refugee status. Her experience over the years in refugee rights, women's empowerment and human rights has imbued her with substantial experience working with disadvantaged populations throughout the world. Dorothy is also a recipient of a MA degree in Public Policy and and BA degree in Political Science from Stony Brook University. After her fellowship, Dorothy wrote: "Working with students in rural Nepal really changed me as a person and my outlook in life. Not only was this fellowship the most challenging experience I have ever had but it was rewarding and powerful, and I would do it again."



Revolution is on the Horizon

25 Jul

Dorothy Aug2 blog-1

As Sujata, 13 year old, clambered up the narrow ladder leading to small hut across from her traditional two story house, she sheepishly looked at me and said this is where I sleep when I am menstruating. The hut shelter sat on the side of a yard crowded with livestock stamping on excrement and hay; chicken foraging and clucking.

In Gutu, as in many villages in Nepal, women become untouchables and are isolated from their families each month while they are menstruating. Girls like Sujata practice chaupadi, a tradition where menstruating women cannot even come near the porch out of fear that families will get sick, livestock will fall ill and the Gods will be angry. 

Dorothy Aug2 blog-2    Dorothy Aug2 blog-3

 Sleeping on hay right next to a chicken coup. 

Sujata’s Chau goth (hut) is nicer than the ones her friends have. Nicer in the sense that is has a door with a lock for protection and a bench to sleep on. For girls in the village without a hut, they sleep in the open garden underneath the stars. 

For generations, women in Nepal have been facing oppression in the name of religion, culture, dignity or honor.  “During my time girls were not allowed to enter the house for 7 days but now, girls are allowed to come into the house on the 5th day” said Sujata’s mom, Kamala.  Kamala really believes that if girls eat radish during their period then their babies will come out looking like one.

“I once had a beautiful apple tree that used to bear lots of fruit but since my daughter and daughter in law touched the tree during their menstruation, apples hardly grow on it.” Perhaps the reasons it doesn’t grow fruit because it became old said Usha, an activist working for Women Girls and Child Rights Program. “Maybe that could be the reason since the tree is about 20 years old after all said Kamala, but I highly doubt it because it has been that way since they touched it.” 

Chaupadi has compelling links to cultural and religious beliefs.  “Girls have to follow certain “norms” during the “unclean” period of menstruation” said Sujata. She is barred from participating in prayers and festivals, though she can eat the food that is cooked during festivals. If a girl breaks some of the rules or behaves inappropriate then the Gods will be angry and in return, they will kill the livestock and bring the family bad luck. 

Sujata’s chau goth (hut), below

Dorothy Aug2 blog-4

As mentioned before that girls are relegated into very unhygienic living conditions when practicing Chaupadi. According to Kamala, “girls should eat not papaya because it an offering made to the God”. Not only that, “girls should not touch seeds or else plants will not grow.”

“I didn’t like go to the chau goth when I was young, but my mother used to force me,” said Kamala.  So why do you force your daughter and daughter in law to go to hut? “What can I do, it is a tradition and my neighbors practice it so I have to as well.” 

Despite various billboard posted around the village about the harmful practices and law about chaupadi, people are still observing the practice. However, some families are starting to adopt their own ways of the practice. One or two families that I met said that girls can stay in their rooms during menstruation. Some girls are also starting to drink milk and yogurt. 

Traditions like chaupadi is so ingrained into the culture and the community that it will not be obsolete overnight. While change is hard and slow, it is starting to take place in this little village called Gutu. 

[content-builder]{“id”:1,”version”:”1.0.4″,”nextId”:4,”block”:”root”,”layout”:”12″,”childs”:[{“id”:2,”block”:”layout”,”layout”:”12″,”childs”:[{“id”:”3″,”block”:”rte”,”content”:”

\"Dorothy<\/p>

As Sujata, 13 year old, clambered up the narrow ladder leading to small hut across from her traditional two story house, she sheepishly looked at me and said this is where I sleep when I am menstruating. The hut shelter sat on the side of a yard crowded with livestock stamping on excrement and hay; chicken foraging and clucking.<\/span><\/p>

In Gutu, as in many villages in Nepal, women become untouchables and are isolated from their families each month while they are menstruating. Girls like Sujata practice chaupadi, a tradition where menstruating women cannot even come near the porch out of fear that families will get sick, livestock will fall ill and the Gods will be angry. <\/p>

\"Dorothy    \"Dorothy
<\/p>

 Sleeping on hay right next to a chicken coup. 
<\/p>

Sujata\u2019s Chau goth (hut) is nicer than the ones her friends have. Nicer in the sense that is has a door with a lock for protection and a bench to sleep on. For girls in the village without a hut, they sleep in the open garden underneath the stars. <\/p>

For generations, women in Nepal have been facing oppression in the name of religion, culture, dignity or honor.  \u201cDuring my time girls were not allowed to enter the house for 7 days but now, girls are allowed to come into the house on the 5th day\u201d said Sujata\u2019s mom, Kamala.  Kamala really believes that if girls eat radish during their period then their babies will come out looking like one.<\/p>

\u201cI once had a beautiful apple tree that used to bear lots of fruit but since my daughter and daughter in law touched the tree during their menstruation, apples hardly grow on it.\u201d Perhaps the reasons it doesn\u2019t grow fruit because it became old said Usha, an activist working for Women Girls and Child Rights Program. \u201cMaybe that could be the reason since the tree is about 20 years old after all said Kamala, but I highly doubt it because it has been that way since they touched it.\u201d <\/p>

Chaupadi has compelling links to cultural and religious beliefs.  \u201cGirls have to follow certain \u201cnorms\u201d during the \u201cunclean\u201d period of menstruation\u201d said Sujata. She is barred from participating in prayers and festivals, though she can eat the food that is cooked during festivals. If a girl breaks some of the rules or behaves inappropriate then the Gods will be angry and in return, they will kill the livestock and bring the family bad luck. <\/p>

Sujata\u2019s chau goth (hut), below
<\/p>

\"Dorothy<\/p>

As mentioned before that girls are relegated into very unhygienic living conditions when practicing Chaupadi. According to Kamala, \u201cgirls should eat not papaya because it an offering made to the God\u201d. Not only that, \u201cgirls should not touch seeds or else plants will not grow.\u201d<\/p>

\u201cI didn\u2019t like go to the chau goth when I was young, but my mother used to force me,\u201d said Kamala.  So why do you force your daughter and daughter in law to go to hut? \u201cWhat can I do, it is a tradition and my neighbors practice it so I have to as well.\u201d <\/p>

Despite various billboard posted around the village about the harmful practices and law about chaupadi, people are still observing the practice. However, some families are starting to adopt their own ways of the practice. One or two families that I met said that girls can stay in their rooms during menstruation. Some girls are also starting to drink milk and yogurt. <\/p>

Traditions like chaupadi is so ingrained into the culture and the community that it will not be obsolete overnight. While change is hard and slow, it is starting to take place in this little village called Gutu. <\/p>\n”,”class”:””}]}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Dorothy Khan (Nepal)

Posted Jul 25th, 2016