The Creation of a Docile Body: What Makes the Practice of Chhaupadi Persistent?
(2022) Asian Women, 38 (1), pp. 107-126.
Chhaupadi is a Nepalese patriarchal custom that prohibits menstruating women from participating in daily routines, such as entering houses and temples, touching living plants, cattle, and taps, and eating dairy products. This has led to a number of unfavorable outcomes that threaten the health and safety of women and their babies, leading to it being officially outlawed in 2005. Despite this, the practice persists. Through in-depth interviews with 11 women from a small village in Dhanshingpur, where all residents continue to follow the rules of chhaupadi, this paper explores the complicated mechanisms that maintain the practice of chhaupadi and how it is being reasoned and regulated. In doing so, the paper grounds its discussions in Foucault’s conceptualizations of power, ultimately arguing that power can continue to compel compliance with illegal practices through self-regulation and the effect of community surveillance. © 2022, Research Institute of Asian Women. All rights reserved.
biopower; chhaupadi; Foucault; menstruation taboo; self-discipline