Sanitary napkins are the basic right of every woman as every woman bleeds. Unlike contraceptives and beedis, napkins are not tax-free.
A woman is considered to be the epitome of strength and power but becomes a tad bit vulnerable on 4 specific days of every month. 'Menses' is the term which is not widely used but is known to everyone. However, those who do not know, menses comes once a month and stays for 4-7 days. During these days, woman bleeds and faces changes in mood patterns. Apart from these behavioural changes, she has to do one thing and that is the usage of sanitary napkins, which are used to soak excess blood.
Cringing, are you? Well, men especially Indians are not used to talking about this. Why shy away, always have remained the question!
Though it is a necessity, sadly many women across the nation cannot afford the napkins and so they use leaves, bits of clothes, shaving, plastic and wood shavings. Horrifying, isn’t it? But, yes, this is a fact. There have been arguments going on as if condoms and contraceptives are made tax free then why not sanitary napkins. As per statistics, 23% of girls drop out of school when they start menstruating because they don't have the privilege to buy sanitary napkins.
Congress MP Sushmita Dev started a campaign recently by filing a petition to finance minister Arun Jaitley suggesting him make the sanitary napkins tax free and to include the same in GST bill. This had set a trend on social platforms, where people across the nation raised the voice using #taxfreewings. This happened in March 2017, but unfortunately, the authorities running the nation, show no interest in changing the scenario.
Social activist Nishant Bangera, has been providing sanitary napkins under his project titled ‘A period of sharing’ and has been doing it for 4 years now. According to him, if the data based on the National Family Health Survey (2015-16) report is considered, the use of sanitary napkins among Indian women is 48.5% in rural, 77.5% in urban and 57.6% total. Looking closely at the scenario, Bangera and his team, since 2017 have started propagating about menstrual cups. On talking about the same, Bangera said, "Initially, my teammates and I used to provide sanitary napkins to women living in rural villages. However, we realised that napkins which having a plastic coat were unhygienic and not recommended for women. Then we started giving incinerator to dispose of the napkins. But considering the pollution and increasing number with need, we switched over to menstrual cups. These cups are biodegradable and a good option for women. While I agree with making the napkins tax free, I also insist the government make them bio-degradable."
Today, many men and women from the nation, took to twitter to talk about the same, using the trending #lahukalagaan. The initiative and the voice was raised by 'SHE' sanitary napkins. To our surprise, many youngsters and popular stand-up comedians came out in support of the same, urging the finance minister Arun Jaitley to make sanitary napkins tax free.
Kunal Vijaykar and Cyrus Broacha
Besides, this initiative, we in India have seen many more on similar lines. But sadly, they have only been a voice and not a change. While the budding generation and youngsters seek a difference, for the better, why is the government, run by many 'elderly men and women' don't see the need? Is that not so evident? or Is it a matter of shame?
Whatever be it, we all have learnt that one should always raise voice if the change is for good. Mumbai Live supports the initiative. Do you too?