Since the GST came into effect on July 1, there has been much uproar over the 12 per cent tax on sanitary napkins, with many arguing that it is a necessary commodity and shouldn’t have such high taxes. On Tuesday, students across colleges and universities of Delhi — men and women alike — decided to pen down #Bleedwithoutfear on sanitary napkins and packed them off in bulk to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s address, to mark their protest.
“We could have chosen the normal protest route, but this was necessary.
Sanitary napkins are still considered a taboo in our society and we see it in small things, like how chemists wrap them up in black polythene bags so that they aren’t visible to the public. It’s almost like denying its existence. Hence, we thought we should send these to Arun Jaitley to make him realise that sanitary pads are a necessity for almost half of the country’s population,” said Ditsa Bhattacharya, a Students’ Federation of India (SFI) activist from PGDAV College.
Backed by women activists from the All India Democratic Women’s Association, the students have decided to continue their campaign of sending sanitary napkins with messages to Jaitley till July 14. It is being undertaken in other states and cities as well.
Anuradha Kumari, another DU student said, “Items like sindoor, bangles and bindis have been made tax free. Condoms and other contraceptives are also exempt, as they should be. Then why not sanitary pads? This is an attack on half of the country’s population,” she said.
Speaking about the campaign, SFI state secretary Prashant Mukherjee said, “Sanitary pads are considered as luxury items and taxed accordingly, but the reality is that these are part of basic necessities for a healthy and hygienic life of a woman. A study by AC Nielsen, published in the International Research Journal of Social Sciences, shows that among women who do not use sanitary pads Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) is 70 per cent more common than those who have access to it.”
He further said the same study shows that in North India over 30 per cent girls stopped going to school after the start of their menstrual cycle due to lack of adequate sanitary products. “83 per cent of these girls said their family cannot afford sanitary pads… Now further inflation in the prices will push many more poor women and girls of this country away from a healthy reproductive life,” said Mukherjee.