In a country which has high concern over wrapping a packet of sanitary napkins with a newspaper, here is a group of women to carry a huge replica of a sanitary napkin above their heads. But this is the way a protest has been carried out against the 12 per cent taxation under Goods and Services Tax on sanitary napkins in Chennai.
This protest that took place at Valluvar Kottam was jointly organized by Dhagam Foundation, an NGO for the empowerment of women. More than 100 people that includes working professionals, home makers and college students gathered at the spot to raise their voice against the fall of sanitary napkins under the tax slab of luxury items.
According to a 2016 study carried out by AC Nielsen , only 12 per cent of India’s 355 million women use saniatry napkins. Also, the study shows the dark side of the country that 88 per cent of the rural women use unsterilized cloth, rags or sand to manage their flow.
Pauline Amal, a law student who was a participant in the protest says periods are looked up as an abusive matter and this protest has now provided confidence for the women to speak up for themselves.
She also added that there were no support from the police officials and they were even asked to remove a poster of women bleeding stating that it was provocative in some way.
Govind Murugan, conveynor of Dhagam foundation said the government has taken steps to control AIDS and at the same time it is also significant to note that there are women who still cannot afford sanitary napkins and the government must ensure providing them for free.
GST on sanitary napkins is heinous and shows that the women are punished for ‘being women’ in this society. Menstruation is all nature and it is no luxury. Periods are not a matter choice. Is the government trying to be misogynistic by putting taxes to essential products such as sanitary napkins and that’s the big question?
GST council’s tax exemption for condoms is a good move and exemption for sanitary napkins could be much better.