“I had to drink one and a half litres of warm mustard oil”

Traditional practices that pose a potential risk to both mother and child are widespread in some parts of the Baglung District in Nepal. For example, mothers are encouraged to drink 1.5 litres of warm mustard oil in the first two weeks after giving birth. You can read here how FAIRMED informs affected women in the district about the dangers of such practices.

Kamala Gharti Magar drank on the advice of elderly people in her village mustard oil. The oil is thought to cleanse the internal organs.

After the birth of her first child, Kamala Gharti Magar drank mustard oil on the advice of the elderly members of her village. The oil is thought to cleanse the internal organs. New mothers often follow this traditional practice without question – just like their mothers before them.

“I gagged when I drank the mustard oil,” says Kamala. Some days later, she lost her appetite. “I was not able to properly breastfeed my baby because I could not keep anything down,” she says. To this day, she suffers from severe stomach problems – a consequence of the ritual. With its Rural Health Improvement project, FAIRMED is helping to raise awareness of traditionally rooted but harmful practices in rural communities, and to bring change in the attitudes of affected women.

FAIRMED is conducting a large-scale awareness-raising campaign to inform mothers of the dangers of such traditions. “When FAIRMED told me about the effects of mustard oil, I began to understand,” says Kamala. She is now passing on her knowledge to other women – including her daughter-in-law. “In one month, she will be a mother herself. I will definitely not encourage her to drink mustard oil,” says the 48-year-old.