'This is a natural process': Managing menstrual stigma in Nepal

Mary Crawford, Lauren M. Menger, Michelle R. Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Menstrual stigma has been demonstrated in many societies. However, there is little research on menstrual attitudes in South Asia, despite religiously-based menstrual restrictions imposed on women. To understand menstrual stigma in this context, we conducted qualitative research with women in Nepal. Nepali Hinduism forbids menstruating women to enter a temple or kitchen, share a bed with a husband or touch a male relative. During menstruation, women are 'untouchable'. There has been virtually no research on how Nepali women make meaning of these practices. The current study employed focus groups and individual interviews to understand how some Nepali women experience menarche and menstrual stigma. We explored how women describe their experiences and the strategies they adopt to manage age-old stigma in a rapidly modernising society where they have multiple roles as workers, wives and mothers. Participants reported they experienced menarche with little preparation, which caused distress, and were subjected to ongoing stigmatisation as menstruating women. They described coping strategies to reduce the effects of this stigma. This study provides a unique perspective on coping with menstrual stigma in South Asia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-439
Number of pages14
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Keywords

  • Nepal
  • attitudes
  • menarche
  • menstruation
  • stigma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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