Custom of menstrual huts rules villages of Kuppam

Custom of menstrual huts rules villages of Kuppam

Menstrual hut in Kuppam Assembly segment of AP. (Photo by special arrangement)

The menstruating women in a few villages of Kuppam assembly constituency represented by the tech-savvy Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, stay in the menstrual hut or 'muttu gudise' in local parlance till they take their purity bath or “maila snanam”. The practice of these untouchable huts can also be seen in states such as Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

The practice that belongs in the middle ages is still found in VurinayanaPalli, VurinayanaKothuru, Palyam and Kalanatham villages close to Tamil Nadu border. While the women in these villages are not ready to discuss the issue with strangers, a few social workers went ahead and saw for themselves the plight of the women in these dingy dungeons that lack basic amenities.

“During the periods, girls, women and those who just delivered a baby will be made to stay in these huts measuring 10x10 feet. The mothers will have to stay along with the newborn babies after their delivery. The rooms have no light, no water, no fan and no ventilation. Not less than a Nazi concentration camp,” a social worker wrote in a report.

All women in the village having their periods have to stay inside this room. They wake up during the wee hours before the village wakes up, go to the canal or village well, take bath, wash clothes and return to the hut.

The room in Vurinayanapalli is damp and full of green moss. The stench is unbearable but the women stay there for three days. “In winter the huts are cold and in summers it’s like a hot oven,” said, a local anganwadi worker.

“I take leave for three days every month to stay in the hut,” a local teacher said, adding that she is not allowed to work in those days. “Men generally go out to have food and only if there are elders in the family we get food to eat,” she pointed out.

In the Palayam village, there is no structure for the women to take shelter. They stay on the cement lining of the village drainage.

Ravishankar Kuruganti an NRI from the USA, who was moved by the reports in the Telugu media, visited the villages. He said: “I am ready to invest money to build a better facility for these women. I am not into the argument of whether sitting separately for three days is good or bad at least my investment will provide them with decent facilities like power, fans and bathrooms.”

Women from these villages believe that living in luxury in those three days is nothing less than sacrilege, and those who violate the rules will be punished by gods. Instances of banishing girls from the village for a decade if they get first menstrual cycle during the festivals have been reported.