North Texas Daily

Chhaupadi nonprofit organizes menstrual product donations across North Texas

Chhaupadi nonprofit organizes menstrual product donations across North Texas

Chhaupadi nonprofit organizes menstrual product donations across North Texas
June 25
12:00 2021

Chhaupadi, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides free menstrual hygiene products, is placing donation bins and period cabinets in businesses and community centers across North Texas for those facing period poverty.

The term chhaupadi refers to the Nepali tradition of barring women on their period from participating in everyday life due to the fear of contaminating those around them. Primarily seen in the rural far-western and Himalayan regions of Nepal, those on their period are put into an animal shed or hut outside of the home for seven to 10 days. During this time, young girls and women are not allowed to do certain daily activities like touching family members, going to school or entering their home’s kitchen area.

The Chhaupadi organization believes in providing feminine products to those who are struggling and in need of proper menstrual hygiene care. While it has an international vision, the group is local to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Current North Texas locations with donation bins include Pilot Point Coffee House in Pilot Point and Denton’s Soho Salon and Soma Massage Therapy. 

“We have collected 22,000 period products over the past year during the pandemic with our donation bins set across the Denton and Pilot Point area,” Chhaupadi organizer Jessica Nordon said. “We give products to the homeless community, domestic violence shelters, schools, doctors’ offices, etc.”

Chhaupadi also installs period cabinets, refilled once a week, in places where the community does not have access to menstrual products. These installations are placed in hopes of changing people’s mindsets about periods and to make menstrual products more accessible. The cabinets are available in locations including Denton Treatment Services, Our Daily Bread and Dallas High School.

“I believe corporations shouldn’t be allowed to profit off my menstrual cycle since I didn’t get a choice in the matter and that feminine products should be free,” theatre senior Destini Spraggins said. “However, I am overjoyed that this conversation is happening and grateful for organizations that step up for our community, especially for those who couldn’t afford feminine products otherwise.”

Our Daily Bread, a community service organization that feeds and cares for the homeless, had its period cabinet installed in September 2020. 

“[Chhaupadi] prevents the [discomfort] of having to ask [for menstrual products] and [the products] are always available,” said Alva Santos, assistant director of Our Daily Bread. 

Chhaupadi has also provided literature to the local community, as well as villages and an orphanage in Nepal. The organization aims to provide education and advocacy related to women’s health issues, hoping to end the practice of chhaupadi in Nepal.

The centuries-old tradition is now a social taboo in mainstream Hindu society and was outlawed in Nepal in 2005. In 2018, a law criminalizing the practice went into effect, punishing violators with of up to three months in jail and a fine. However, in 2019 the Kathmandu Post reported that local police and government officials were reluctant to pursue cases due to a lack of public support, with some practicing chhaupadi themselves. A 2020 study conducted by the University of Bath and the Centre for Research on Environment, Health, and Population Activities in Nepal reported 77 percent of Nepali girls in midwestern villages practiced chhaupadi.

“We have done a lot of Zoom events to talk about period poverty, period hygiene and period taboos around the world,” Nordon said. “We are hoping as a nonprofit that we can help those going through period poverty and insecurities by not only providing access to period products but showing others that periods are normal and natural.”

Future events held by Chhaupadi can be viewed at chhaupadi.org. For more information about donations and installing free menstrual product cabinets, visit their website or social media pages with the handle @chhaupadi.

Featured Image: The Soma Message Therapy sign on June 19, 2021. Image by Laura Nunez

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Natalie Ochoa

Natalie Ochoa

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