Amidst the hue and cry which the recent Goods and Sales Tax reform has attracted, some issues such as the tax levied on female hygiene products have become a regular point of contention with economists, politicians and citizens. A total tax of 12% has been placed on sanitary napkins, drawing a lot of outrage – calling it ‘patriarchal’ and ‘sexist’; appearing to focus more on birth control than women’s hygiene(condoms have been exempted from tax altogether)
The Shetty Women Welfare Foundation has filed a Public Interest Litigation in favour of putting sanitary pads in the same tax exempted category as condoms, sindoor and bangles. The PIL was filed in the Bombay High Court, urging the judiciary to take over the matter, since, at this rate, only 12% of menstruating Indian women can afford to purchase feminine hygiene products. “Steps need to be taken by the government to increase the access of women to basic menstrual hygiene products in order to improve their health and protect their rights under Article 21 (Right to Life)”, the foundation stated. The hearing date for the PIL has been set for the 24th of July.
The court’s decision is awaited.
By: Tarun Rao