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Sindoor or sanitary napkin, what would you buy if you had money enough for only one of those two? Almost all women would raise their hands for a sanitary napkin for obvious reasons. However, the government clearly thinks otherwise.
As India braces itself to the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates that is to be rolled out on July 1, the GST Council declared tax rates for 1211 items on May 18.Among these were sanitary towels, napkins and tampons. The tax rate on these goods would be 12% (this is the second lowest tax slab, the others being 5%, 18% and 28%).
Superficially, this is an improvement since until now, sanitary napkins, which are considered a luxury item in India, were taxed 14.5%.
For comparison, the government has declared sindoor, bangles and bindis, which have no essential value, as tax-exempt. Also for reference, just some of the other items included in the same category as female hygiene products are drawing books, frozen meat products and cellphones.
Let’s pretend that menstruation is a woman’s burden, and absolve ourselves of all responsibilities as a government of providing a respectable life to all its citizens.
Condoms have also been made tax-free. Because sexual intercourse is an uncontrollable biological condition, isn’t it? Therefore, it is the government’s duty to promote safe sex and hence, protect its citizens’ right to life. But the #LahuKaLagaan continues, because, apparently, menstruation and the power of procreation, even as we continue to not get support during the former and credit for the latter–is a choice we make, month after month. So, the government can opt to not feel accountable towards millions of girls, who also need protection from severe UTIs because they cannot afford basic hygiene products.
Sindoor, bangles and bindis are now tax-exempt. But. Not. Sanitary. Pads. Because women are rewarded in marriage not health.