Last week India took one bold step towards becoming a more progressive nation. In a landmark decision, the nation announced that the highly debated “Blood Tax”, more commonly referred to as the “Tampon Tax” internationally, will be put to an end.
India previously charged a 12% GST on sanitary products, and on scrapping this, has furthered the cause of female rights in the nation. How does this move help the plight of females in the country you ask?
Firstly, in rejecting the previous labeling of tampons and sanitary pads as “luxury items”, the government has showcased to the Indian society how it is working to uplift the quality of life for women across the country. It has broken blockades of underlying sexism by putting an end to taxing women for being women.
Secondly, it helps reduce barriers to female education. Politician Sushmita Dev has indicated that an estimated 70% of women in India could not afford sanitary pads and tampons. In fact, UNICEF has estimated that more than one-third of South Asian girls miss school owing to the lack of access towards female hygiene products. In exempting tampons and sanitary pads from tax and increasing their affordability, the government allows women to overcome the hurdles to schooling and education.
Furthermore, it ensures that the society is prioritizing menstrual hygiene and ensuring sanitation. Once again, we see how scrapping the “Tampon Tax” acknowledges hygiene as a necessity and not as a luxury.
With these moves to end the “Tampon Tax”, India has now joined Kenya, Canada, Australia and several states in America, who have also eliminated this unjust taxing. However, it is important to remember that the “Tampon Tax” is still widespread and rampant on a global scale.
Take the UK for instance, where according to the #FreePeriod campaign founder, Amica George, “Jaffa cakes, shop-bought pitta bread, and alcoholic jellies are not taxed” whilst sanitary napkins and tampons are. There is no doubt that Period Poverty is a major issue in our society today, and must be tackled expeditiously.
If you currently reside in a nation that continues to brand items such as sanitary napkins and tampons as “luxury items” and that continues to impose heavy taxes on female hygiene necessities, I urge you to speak out against such practices, vocalise your opinions to representatives and contribute to petitions to put an end to such gross injustices.