Should sanitary pads be made tax free?
With GST just around the corners, women took to social media and even filed a petition for making sanitary pads tax free. Menstruation is a biological process that is not optional or vanity and hence charging taxes for sanitary pads is unjust according to the petitioner.
The other side believes that even though sanitary products are not optional or vanity, they cannot be made tax free owing to the fact that there are many brands for the products with their variants, some of them are multinational and huge.Yes1. Access to sanitary products
It is easier for us to say that the products are affordable when we afford to dine and shop at luxury malls but for the less privileged, it is not all that easy. According to a survey only 12% of the 355 million women in India use sanitary napkins. This number is far lesser in rural areas. On the whole, 70% Indian women cannot afford sanitary pads. Making it tax free and cheaper will definitely help.2. Pay for bleeding
Sanitary pads and tampons are not luxury products that women use for vanity. They are used for absorbing blood every months of the painful period that women suffer from. If gender discriminatory wages and laws were not enough suppressing, taxing on this necessary product makes the discrimination worse. It is an essential product to promote health and hygiene and is yet ignored.3. Huge taxes
Depending on states, sanitary pads and tampons are taxed at 10% to 12% which is huge if we look at it from the perspective that a woman has to spend a part of her earning every month for around 50 years of her life on sanitary products. It is huge. And discriminatory as it is only on women, it should be made tax free to encourage more women to use the products.4. Absurd comparisons
Those advocating against the petition are of the view that men too have to pay taxes for condoms, etc which is male centred product hence women can pay taxes on pads and tampons too. Condom is a contraceptive which is necessary for preventing unwanted pregnancy which is centred not just on men. Women have more to her part in this if she conceives. There are also comparisons being made with Viagra and other such products which is equally absurd. Women have to pay taxes for female contraceptives too.5. Health concerns
Women who are not able to afford sanitary napkins use cloths, dried leaves, newspapers, plastic, mud, etc. to absorb menstrual blood which is not juts uncomfortable but unhygienic too. They are at grave risk of infections and cervical cancer later in life. Making sanitary products affordable, easier to get through vending machines and eco friendly will be beneficial for all.No1. Luxury brands
One look at the number of luxury brands that have sprung up in recent years selling pads and tampons and you should be able to understand that they cannot be left tax free. Some of these are simply costing more because of unnecessary variations like use of non degradable plastics, etc. They are bound to go low on quality once the prices are forced to go down.2. Cheaper pads are available too
Poverty is a big concern, no doubt. However, the usage of weird products by rural women is not due to taxes on pads. It is because they cannot spare any money on a product they see as unnecessary. They need to be made aware first and only then can this be promoted. And there are cheaper cotton pads available too, which are far more hygienic and eco friendly than the high absorbing, plastic padded and scented ones.
Tax on menstrual pads are discriminatory and burdening on women and hence should be removed in all states of India with strict emphasis on spreading awareness and easy availability of these products on vending machines in rural areas.