As the goods and service tax (gst) came into force on July 1,2017 with the slogan one nation one tax ,there were many groups of people raising their voice against it which symbolizes dissatisfaction .One among them were also the women whose voice caught up the eyes of every individual in the country when the protest reached the zenith on the tax imposed on the sanitary napkins .
When the article twenty -one of the Indian constitution gives the right to life and personal liberty ,their is no point over the tax being levied by the government on the sanitary napkins .
Hashtags such as of “Sex is a choice ,but periods are not ” prevailed around the country with women asking their rights as it is a matter of public interest .A survey report by The Times Of India says that only 12 % of India’s 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins .Over 88 % of women resort to shocking alternatives like unsanitised cloth ashes and hunk sand .Incidents of Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) is 70 % more common among these women .
The protest gained momentum also because the condoms available are tax free and the sanitary napkins which is among the prime neccesity of every women contains tax .
The public interest litigation filed by city based NGO ‘Shetty women welfare foundation’ claimed such exemption was essential to ensure that basic menstrual hygiene products must be easily accessible across the country .At a point of time when government launches a scheme such as “Beti bachao,Beti padhao” and when it taxes their periods certainly raises the question on their priority of social welfare .And it is due to this menstrual hygiene that there are maximum girl school dropouts as the onset of menstruation takes place . Afterall , it’s an entire question on the mobility of a women .
While government seems to be busy patting it’s own back for having reduced the tax on sanitary napkins to 12 % from pre gst 13.7% ,but people are still protesting .It is also a matter of image of the Indian women which the government of India is trying to cast when sindur ,alta and kumkum are tax free items and napkins at the rate of 12% .
Menoragia is a disease in which there is a continous bleeding and the pads should be changed every alternate hours .With the severe pains and economic crisis we are sure with this tax slab we are not standing by our progressive credentials .
A social activist from Mumbai says “We must use sanitary cups which costs around Rs .800 and lasts for about ten years .And sanitary napkins must not be used as it is non bio- degradable which is harmful for animals .But the question to be asked here is that , “How many of the women in rural or even urban areas can have Rs 800 at a time” .And , Infact this is the lowest price in which we will get the basic sanitary cups .The better ones even costs much more .
The government must always strive for public welfare in a welfare state like India .The tax imposed on the sanitary napkins must be repelled as the government must ensure atleast a proper menstrual hygiene for its citizen .