The Goods and Services Tax Council has decided to tax sanitary pads and tampons at 12 per cent to the dismay of many women across India, turning a deaf ear to the collective outcry, which urged the government to exempt these items from the tax slab. A quick skim through the other tax brackets reveals that items such as bindi, sindoor, bangles and even betel leaves have been put in the zero tax slab. Upset at the decision, like many women in India, Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ wife Amruta has promised to voice her concern with her husband.
She has been vocal about feminine hygiene and safety issues in the past and has strongly come out in support of the cause. “I feel sanitary napkins have been made accessible in villages and rural areas only recently and non-branded sanitary napkins should be kept out of the tax regime completely for it to be accessible to women,” says Amruta. Ask her if she has voiced her concern with her husband and she shares, “I have put forth my views and emphasised on the fact that sanitary napkins made by self help groups) shouldn’t be taxed. Devendra has assured that he will look into the matter,” she adds.
There is still a lot of stigma associated with menstruation in India. “The fact that more than 50 per cent of women population in India uses sanitary napkins should give the government all the more reason to exempt it. The stigma associated with menstruation needs to be eradicated,” she adds.
The final meeting of the council is yet to take place and Amruta hopes for a positive result, “We are an open-minded government which has always thought about the welfare of women and will do so even now,” she signs off....