The Goods and Services Tax (GST) on sanitary pads has become a point of debate amongst political parties, activists and citizens accusing government of neglecting the needs of women.
Protesting against the same, a Meerut based NGO: Progressive Women Welfare Association, sent sanitary pads to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
“A majority of the women in India are unable to afford sanitary napkins because of the cost. This is when it is a necessity for them and concerns both sanitation and menstrual health of a woman. By imposing 12% GST on sanitary napkins, the government has tried to make a mockery of women.”- Pooja Singh (secretary of the NGO)
According to a 2011 study by AC Nielsen, only 12% of India’s 335 million adult women can afford sanitary pads. A 12% tax on sanitary pads is an improvement from the earlier proposal of 18%, but comes as a shock since sindoor has been put under the ‘essential’ category and therefore exempt from tax.
“We have sent a packet of sanitary napkins to PM Modi so that he remembers that women from UP sent it to him, although many of them can’t afford it. The irony is that condoms – despite not being the only contraceptive means – are exempt from tax, but a monthly necessity for a woman has 12% tax on it”, Pooja Singh further added.
The NGO members not only sent a packet of the product to the PM, but also sent a letter of their demands to him.
“Narendra Modi had an opportunity to waive tax from sanitary pads as a new tax was being introduced but despite this the tax continues. We demand that the product be made tax-free,” added Singh.
Some right wing organizations and social media handles defended the increased taxation by saying that Cloth pads are actually better than the Plastic ones. Which Indian women have already been using for centuries. Ignoring the fact that how several rural and urban regions of India have considered menstruation as a taboo and completely normalized the plight of the women. Properly structured cloth pads are rarely to be found in Indian markets and government does not care to step in that direction either. Ultimately we could derive that the far-right conservative government classified sindoor as an “essential” good, but not Sanitary pads.
Source: Times of India