In Nepal, a custom ‘Chaupadi’ which is a practice of banishing women during their menstruation, has threatened women’s lives for ages. Though there have been so manyefforts to eradicate the chaupadi both inside and outside of Nepal, the lives of women have not changed significantly. This short documentary allows us to ask questions and get the answers we need.
With writing and direction from Haechan Ha and Yumin Kim, we are welcomed to a village in Nepal and introduced to what the women face for 7 days each month. Due to the custom, women are seen a bad for producing ‘toxic blood’ and forced to not speak to their loved ones during this time. I was shocked at how these traditions had been passed down so much that they were respected and followed by nearly everyone. Women believed they needed to follow the rules or would be committing sin.
During one moment in the film, we see a situation where the men have met and are discussing why periods are bad. It was interesting to hear their views, learning that they or the people around them had not been educated on what they truly are. Religion, culture, and customs can be hard to break out of and see the other side of the story. This documentary allowed me to understand that this is what these people believed, so why would they do anything different? It was amazing to see what women and even men were starting to do to teach the people what periods really are and how they can be managed.
This film doesn’t attack who these people are, only showing us beliefs and how some are trying to change them. We still were able to see the colour and excitement in the village, the lives of the people, even if it focused mostly on one part. It was great to be in lots of areas and have cameras give us different angles and perspectives. I leave this documentary feeling many things. I just hope that those who plan to change customs have the support that they need to keep pushing. These women need to know that what their body does is not wrong. These men need to respect nature and what periods actually mean.
As someone who menstruates, the problems I face in the country I live in are things like the period tax, and people with lower incomes not being able to access sanitary products. It was truly eye-opening and heart-breaking to hear these women speak about their version of periods and how people across some countries and in some cultures are turned away and seen as bad for something that isn’t their fault and helps to bring life into the world. A powerful short documentary that needs to be shown all over the world.
Learn more about the Global Voices Film Festival – https://www.globalvoicesfilmfestival.org