Are Sanitary napkins a luxury?
What is it that makes one a female? Our dear government has critically analysed and came to few identification measures and pointed out the necessity for women. The one who wears bangles, bindi and sindoor are the women and all these are necessities for her because that is what makes her and is important for her identification. Hence our government, which is too caring for its citizens has made it tax free. And about the sanitary napkins, our government feels it’s a luxury. It is a luxury when a women bleeds, it is a luxury when she is in pain every month, it is a luxury when she is she has to use newspapers and clothes during menstrual cycle and the few who are privileged to know about it are forced to spend hefty sum of money every month. We talk about sanitation, about the girls dropout rate in schools and we all very clearly know the reasons then even why are we so ignorant about it. Isn’t it the responsibility of the government to find a solution to this problem? No fancy words can do it. Sanitary napkins is a necessity for very girl who has reached puberty irrespective of her religion, her marital status, her culture.
Periods is not a choice, marriage or following traditions can be. Why is the government not realising the situation and understand the point that “sanitary napkins is not a luxury not even near to luxury, it is a basic necessity for a girl.” The contraceptives are made tax free and not this. What should be concluded from this, that the necessity of women is based on what is related to men. Our we really so carefree about what women needs and what is related to her health.
Sadly, while the world celebrates Menstrual Hygiene Week that seeks to break the taboo around periods, Indian women are paying a considerable amount of tax on something as basic as menstrual hygiene products. Not surprisingly, they are hardly enthused by the recent decision to exempt bangles and sindoor under the Goods and Services Tax , but tax sanitary napkins up to 12 per cent in the country. Not willing to be pacified by the 2.5 per cent fall in tax from the previous 14.5 per cent, women activists argue it makes no significant difference and are unwilling to give Karnataka the kudos either for its still lower rate of tax on sanitary napkins.
“It is absolutely unfair to make us pay for something that is a natural process, a bodily function. The GST should be uniform and at the lowest at least. Karnataka is a lower five per cent but even so the problem remains,” says menstrual health activist and founder of MITU (Multiple Initiatives Towards Upliftment) Foundation, Kala Charlu, warning that the older generation of women is more at risk.
As if the sheer discomfort menstruation brings to women each month isn't enough, the added expenditure associated with this monster makes things even worse. To tackle this very issue, a campaign is currently urging the Government of India to abolish taxes on sanitary napkins entirely. #LahuKaLagaan--that literally translates to 'tax imposed on blood'--wants Finance Minister Arun Jaitely to exempt menstrual hygiene products like sanitary napkins from taxes that go up to 14.5 per cent in some states.
You can go without attending that compulsory office outing during days you're not particularly feeling rich, but the expense associated with menstrual hygiene products is as unavoidable as menstruation itself. But while the need for this campaign heralded by non-profit organisation, She Says, cannot be emphasised upon enough, this is merely the first step in the direction.
a mere 12 per cent of India's total female population has access to sanitary napkins. Which means, the remaining 88 per cent women are still surviving on traditional methods like cloth pads, dried leaves and newspapers. Maybe it's this disparity that makes people believe sanitary napkins are a luxury item when, in fact, they are a necessity.
Lethargy, immense pain, and decreased productivity are some inevitable facets of menstruation, but when women and girls are subjected to unhygienic period health and disposal practices, they're also subjected to the perils of cervical cancer and Reproductive Tract Infections.
While this online campaign has addressed a part of the issue around menstruation, it can serve as a starting point for a larger, much needed conversation on the consideration of women in policy-making. As a clear example of ‘regulatory discrimination’, as some would have it, classification of sanitary napkins as a luxury item only reveals the apathy of a state to bodily functions of a woman that are completely natural and over which a woman practically has no control. So while #LahuKaLagaan might seem like a campaign heralding the idea of tax-free menstrual products, its real purpose goes much deeper than that. The idea is to not make this about the 12 per cent of women or leave behind the remaining 88 per cent--but to use the occasion as a means to benefit the 100 per cent female population and make affordable menstrual hygiene a basic human right instead of the utopian dream it seems like today.
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