THE Students’ Federation of India, in a statement issued on July 10, has demanded an immediate withdrawal of the added taxation on sanitary napkins and ensure the maximum reach of the menstrual protection tools at lowest prices. In the recent GST effected by the Modi government, sanitary pads are considered as luxury items and taxed accordingly, when the reality is that these are a basic necessity for a woman’s healthy life. 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 the access to it. Gynecologists involved in this study also claim use of tampoons can reduce the risk of cervical cancer and many more diseases related to the reproductive system. But the ground reality of Indian menstrual health is shocking and disturbing. According to the same study only 12 per cent of total women in their menstrual age use sanitary napkins, over 88 per cent depend on alternative unhygienic ways like unsanitised clothes, ashes and husk sand. This leads to a decline in productivity by 31 per cent, where they miss average 2.2 days in their workplace; in north India over 30 per cent of girls stopp going to school after the start of their menstrual cycle due to lack of adequate sanitary products. 83 per cent of these girls said that their family cannot afford sanitary pads, and added to that there are problems of social taboo where even talking about periods, free movement during these days are restricted due to notions of purity and pollution. Now, further inflation in the prices of sanitary napkins will push away many more poor women and girls of this country from a healthy reproductive health.
In this context, SFI will take up a "Bleed Without Fear, Bleed without Tax" campaign against this insensitive move where, from July 11-14, girls across the country will send sanitary pads to the finance minister with a message written against the taxation and demanding adequate sanitation for women including sanitary pad vending machines and providing below poverty line adolescent girls six packets of sanitary napkins, at Rs 1 per month.