Earlier today, thousands of Indian Twitter users took to their social media handles to ask the government to make sanitary napkins tax-free. As a result of which, #LahuKaLagaan, which literally means the tax on the blood, is currently trending and has more than 5,000 tweets with the same hashtag.
A few weeks ago, Sushmita Dev, a government official from India, started an online petition called Tax Free Wings on Change.org. The ongoing petition asked for 300,000 signatures, and as of this writing, more than 260,000 Indians have signed the petition asking the government to make sanitary napkins tax-free.
— Aditi Rao Hydari (@aditiraohydari) April 19, 2017
The petition shared following data that state that if the government will stop levying the tax on women’s hygienic products, then more and more woman will be able to afford to buy tampons or napkins. As a result, they will be able to take proper care of themselves.
According to the featured data, only 12 percent of the 355 million women are currently using sanitary napkins or tampons. At present, the Indian government charges 12 percent of tax on all the products, and it varies from different state to state. Different media outlets further reported that a 12 percent tax is expected to be applicable even with the new updated Goods and Services Tax (GST) applied by the current Indian government.
The online petition is addressed to India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister for Health & Family Welfare J.P. Nadda and Union Minister for Women & Child Development Maneka Gandhi.
“With the GST that is going to be implemented, a step needs be taken by the central government to make sanitary napkins tax free (like condoms and contraceptives) as it is an essential item which is a necessity for every woman. This step will only bolster the idea of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ (Save daughter, educate daughter) and ‘Swachh Bharat’ (Clean India),” the petition further asks the government.
The petition wants that Indian government should make all the sanitary napkins in India 100 percent tax-free.
“A 100% tax exemption for the production and distribution of environment and health friendly pads (reusable cloth sanitary napkins and environment-friendly napkins) will add impetus to the reach of the product, and will also help the organizations involved in the production of these pads that also gives livelihood opportunities to rural women.”
After the online petition went viral in India, SheSays, an organization in India that campaigns for women’s rights, started another campaign called #LahuKaLagaan on Twitter, asking the Finance Minster of India to look into the online petition and make sanitary napkins tax-free.
— SheSays (@SheSaysIndia) April 18, 2017
Even famous Bollywood celebrities and artists from the entertainment industry took to their Twitter handles to show their support for the same. Standup comedians like Kanan Gill, Karan Talwar, and Kenny Sebastian shared their thoughts and concerned on the same issue.
— Kanan Gill (@KananGill) April 18, 2017
All India Bakchod’s, an Indian comedy group, Rohan Joshi even pointed out in his Snapchat story that due to unaffordable sanitary napkins and tampons, teenage girls from India usually do not attend the school for at least five days in a month.
— Rohan (@mojorojo) April 18, 2017
According to a paper published by Vishakha Goyal titled “Scope and Opportunities for Menstrual Health and Hygiene Products in India,” a cost of 10 medium-quality sanitary napkins in somewhere around 70 cents per month. Although, the amount is very low for the developed countries like America and Australia, but for an Indian woman, who is living below poverty line — 70 cents a month matters a lot.
As a result of these high prices, women from rural India are forced to use cloth pieces or unsterilized cloth instead of sanitary napkins.
If Indian government agrees to the aforementioned demands, then it will join the hands of countries like Canada and Ireland where the government has already made it possible that no tax will be charged on sanitary napkins or tampons.
[Featured Image by Zoranm/iStock]