In 1988 India’s Menstruation Man, Arunachalam Muruganatham started production of low cost sanitary napkins and received criticism from his entire village, lost his respect and family. But he never let any of this down his morale. His hardwork has paid off and taking inspiration from this Bollywood “khiladi” decided to make a film on the same called “Padman”.
The tax levied on sanitary napkins poses a potential threat to this man’s aim of providing low cost sanitary napkins especially in the rural areas. The finance bill, 2017 imposes 14.5% GST on sanitary napkins, however products like kumkum, sindoor, bindi, alta and bangles are tax free. Once again, culture took over necessity and in turn the Indian woman suffers.
In India, 355 million women menstruate out of which 70% cannot afford sanitary napkins. The tax levied further discourages them to purchase basic hygiene products. Most people having responsibility to make the finance bill are men, would it be a fair assumption that menstruation and related problems does not occur in their minds? Or do they see potential revenue from tax on sanitary napkins? Or do they see sanitary napkins as entertainment rather than survival?
On February 25, Sushmita Dev, Congress MP launched a petition asking, Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley to remove tax levied on sanitary napkins. The tax levied has been strongly condemned by celebrities and other personalities. A campaign has been started by non-profit organisation, SheSays, called #LahuKaLagaan (tax on blood). This hashtag is trending on various social media websites as protest against the new levy.
What the government must understand is that 70% of reproduction diseases are caused by poor menstrual hygiene which in turn affects maternal mortality rate. Women, especially in rural areas use cloth, sand, sawdust, leaves and even ash instead of sanitary pads. Most women are even embarrassed to dry the cloth in the sun, which means they do not get disinfected. Protection from UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) is a basic need for survival which must be understood by men having the responsibility of our country.
The women of our country are only asking our respectable Finance Minister to act like their real life “ Padman ”.
What do you think ???