Woman, 35, freezes to death alongside her two young sons after being made to live in a freezing hut while on her period

Amba Bohara, 35, was found curled up next to her sons, aged just seven and nine, in the tiny shed next to their home yesterday morning.

The desperate mum tried to keep her children warm by lighting a fire but all three tragically died from smoke inhalation, officials said.

She had been exiled from her home while on her period under a Hindu tradition called Chhaupadi, which deems women to be "impure" during the natural cycle.

Authorities are now deliberating whether to press charges against the family over the horrifying deaths.

Amba had spent the day feeding her family's cattle and gathering firewood before taking her children to the hut as she began her period on Tuesday night.

But the next morning her sister-in-law noticed smoke billowing from the door as she brought Amba a cup of tea, the New York Times reports.

She opened the door to a tragic sight – Amba and her sons with foam spewing from their mouths and their clothes charred by fire.

Amba's husband, a manual labourer in the village, said: "This has broken my heart".

It is not clear why the children accompanied their mother into the hut, which barely enough space for three people.

Investigators have since arrived at Budhinanda village, which is located about 250 miles northwest of the the capital, Katmandu.

Chhaupadi: The backward Hindu practice that banishes menstruating women from their homes

In the western region of Nepal it is customary for women to be banished from their homes while they menstruate because of their supposed impurity during this time.

Despite it being outlawed, many have continued the practice due to strong superstitious beliefs and community support for the tradition.

Girls and women are forced to abandon their normal family activities and take shelter in unhygienic huts or cow sheds until their cycle ends.

While on their period they are not allowed to use kitchen utensils, wash in communal areas or enter the temple.

They face bitterly cold temperatures, attacks from wild animals, infection from unclean conditions and the possibility of sexual assault.

The custom has continued in the western hills of the majority Hindu Himalayan country.

The bodies were sent for post mortem examination in a nearby town and the Bajura District chief administrator Chetraj Baral said he is consulting with government lawyers to determine if charges will be made.

He added that the government will send officials to educate residents about the practice, which was banned by the Supreme Court in 2005.

A new law criminalised the forced exile of menstruating women last year, with violators facing up to three months behind bars or a fine of 3,000 Nepalese rupees (£23).

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