Nation

Women activists oppose 12% tax on sanitary napkins

July 08, 2017 01:20 PM

BENGALURU: "Sex is a choice, period is not". This hard-hitting statement has been going viral since the Centre introduced GST nd levied a 12% tax on sanitary napkins. 

Dr Hema's hospital (Divakar's Hospital) has been distributing Kanya Pads, a made-in-India product, to create awareness about menstrual hygiene among girls in government school and, so far, 25,000 girls have benefited from the initiative. "We do haemoglobin checks on girls and explain to them the need to use pads. As we have sufficient stock, we may not be hit by GST immediately. Our intention is to make girls use pads. If they use them for a year, they won't stop using them," said Dr Hema.

On Facebook, women have begun an online campaign, `Don't tax my period', to urge the government to withdraw the tax levied on sanitary pads, reports timesofindia.indiatimes.com.

Stating that the move will lead to unhygienic practices, many women's groups, gynaecologists and NGOs have been vociferous about their demand."What should be treated as a necessity has been taxed. In fact, it's the kumkum and bangles that are a choice, but they have been exempted from GST.Menstruation is my pride; my biological functioning, but not my choice. The government that talks about `Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' does not seem to have respect for women. We will fight this till the government withdraws the GST on sanitary napkins," said K S Vimala of Janavadi Mahila Sanghatane that has been working on gender issues and women's rights. On Friday , the NGO held a protest in Gulbarga, opposing the move. Such protests will be be replicated across the state, said Vimala, voicing the concerns of many .

Swarna Venkataraman, a city-based entrepreneur is part of the online brigade opposing the move. "This is an issue of basic hygiene, something which is non-negotiable," she said, also pointing to the need to look into matters of sustainable menstruation products which too would come under the tax net. "There is a need to look into all the options available for sustainable menstruation," she said.

 In fact, protests by several women's groups have received the endorsement of doctors and gynaecologists. "Ideally, use of sanitary napkins should be incetivized. This kind of taxation will only take us back to unhygienic practices. In rural areas, many young girls do not have water to drink or wash, and use of sanitary napkin has been a boon in such places. Women shouldn't refrain from using pads now just because of the added financial burden," said Dr Hema Divakar, former president of The Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India, Karnataka chapter.

Dr Hema's hospital (Divakar's Hospital) has been distributing Kanya Pads, a made-in-India product, to create awareness about menstrual hygiene among girls in government school and, so far, 25,000 girls have benefited from the initiative. "We do haemoglobin checks on girls and explain to them the need to use pads. As we have sufficient stock, we may not be hit by GST immediately. Our intention is to make girls use pads. If they use them for a year, they won't stop using them," said Dr Hema.

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