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Menstrual Restrictions and Women’s Health in Nepal

  • Economics Discussion Papers
  • November 2, 2020
  • Bipasha Maity,
  • Rahul Kumar, Bipasha Maity

We study the impacts of the ritual of menstrual restrictions on women's healthcare utilization, acceptability of domestic violence and subjective well-being in Nepal. These restrictions, also practised around the time of childbirth, are based on the assumption that women are ritually impure during menstruation and childbirth. We use the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) for Nepal and apply binary regression and propensity score matching methods as well as investigate the implications of plausible omitted variable bias on our estimated treatment effect of menstrual restrictions. We find that women faced with menstrual restrictions are more likely to give birth at home and receive assistance from untrained individuals during childbirth, which increases the risk of maternal mortality. We also find lower usage of contraception in some specifications. Women subjected to these rituals are also found to have greater acceptability of domestic violence by their husbands. Lastly, we found lower subjective well-being among younger women who have been subjected to these restrictions, but this finding was statistically significant only when women faced the strictest restrictions during menstruation. These results indicate that menstrual restriction related rituals can have persistent negative implications on women's well-being that is not just limited to the time of menstruation. Thus, these practices are important impediments in achieving the sustainable development goals of gender equality and good health and well-being for all.

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