Finance Ministry officials were taken aback on Tuesday (July 11) when hundreds of women protesting the GST tax rate of 12% on sanitary napkins flooded them with the pads that had a message, “Bleed without fear”, written on them.

The protest was organised by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).

The newly implemented Goods and Services Tax rates sanitary products at 12% which is undoubtedly lower than the previous 13.7% but it is still a high value of tax for an essential product. Especially, when items like sindoor and bangles attract no tax at all.

AIDWA’s general secretary, Mariam Dhawale talked to SheThePeople.TV about the initiative and said that sanitary napkins are basically hygiene products and pushing people back to using cloth and unhygienic ways of sanitation is what the government is doing by not revoking the tax.

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“We have demanded that the GST on all essential products, especially for women, should be tax-free,” said Mariam, adding that now the taxes are going to be the same all over, which is a cause of worry.

SFI president Vikar Bhadauria said, “Sanitary pads are considered luxury items and taxed accordingly. The reality is that these are a necessity for a woman. Inflated prices will discourage poor women and girls from using pads,” reported DNA.

The move is part of an all-India campaign — ‘Bleed Without Fear, Bleed without Tax’ –and it was followed by a video screening by a Delhi University student who asked when condoms can be tax-free, then why can’t sanitary products be?

Among the pool of protests going on against GST on sanitary products, there is another popular one which recently went viral on social media—Lahu Ka Lagaan. Experts argue that today only 12% women in India use sanitary products only because of the high tax rate, a majority of 88% still have to resort to unhygienic practices to fulfil their monthly needs which lead to various diseases and deaths.

Picture credit- State India