A 15-year-old girl in Nepal who had been banished to a tiny, outdoor hut because she was having her period was found dead in the morning, and now police are investigating, reports the BBC. It was cold, and she'd lit a small fire, but "there wasn't any space for air to come in or smoke to escape, so she died of suffocation," a government employee tells NPR in regard to the death of 9th-grader Roshani Tiruwa. Her father found her body. What's worse, another teen died under similar circumstances last month after she, too, had been sent to spend the night in a so-called "menstrual hut." The Achham district superintendent of police calls the tragedies a "big eye-opener" and says he expects the traditional practice to diminish.
In Nepal, girls and women who are menstruating are considered unclean and prevented from doing a wide range of ordinary activities, such as seeing and touching certain people, entering kitchens, and sleeping in their homes. Many must instead sleep in cattle sheds, as the Guardian explained in a feature earlier this year. The Hindu ritual is called "chaupadi," and even though the practice was banned in Nepal several years ago, it is still ingrained in local culture, with many fearing the wrath of the gods should the rules be broken. (Remember the Olympic swimmer who mentioned her period?)