In­dia scraps tam­pon tax af­ter cam­paign

The Malta Business Weekly - - NEWS -

In­dia has scrapped its 12% tax on all san­i­tary prod­ucts fol­low­ing months of cam­paign­ing by ac­tivists.

The an­nounce­ment comes a year af­ter the govern­ment in­tro­duced the tax, known as GST, on all goods - in­clud­ing the 12% duty on men­strual hy­giene prod­ucts.

Cam­paign­ers ar­gued the tax would make them even more un­af­ford­able in a coun­try where an es­ti­mated four out of five women and girls al­ready have no ac­cess to items like san­i­tary pads.

The news was wel­comed by cam­paign­ers.

Surbhi Singh, founder of Sachhi Sa­heli, a men­strual health aware­ness char­ity, told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion: "This was a most-awaited and nec­es­sary step to help girls and women to stay in school, their jobs, to prac­tise proper men­strual hy­giene.

"This will help them to grow, to show their true po­ten­tial."

Pe­ri­ods are one of the lead­ing rea­sons why girls drop out of ed­u­ca­tion in In­dia, while many others are forced to stay at home be­cause they can't ac­cess san­i­tary prod­ucts.

Some women use cloth or rags - which, if not clean, can in­crease the risk of in­fec­tions.

So when the govern­ment branded tam­pons and san­i­tary pads a lux­ury item, with a 12% tax, it sparked an im­me­di­ate cam­paign to get the mea­sure re­voked, in­clud­ing court chal­lenges and pe­ti­tions - one of which got more than 400,000 sig­na­tures.

It was known as Lahu ka La­gaan in Hindi, which trans­lates as "blood tax".

The an­nounce­ment their cam­paign had been suc­cess­ful was made by In­dia's in­terim fi­nance min­is­ter, Piyush Goyal, who said he was "sure all moth­ers and sis­ters will be very happy to hear that san­i­tary pads are now 100% ex­empt from tax".

Cam­paigner Amar Tul­siyan, founder of Ni­ine Move­ment, went fur­ther, say­ing it was "a big win for ev­ery­one" in In­dia.

Pe­riod poverty is not only a prob­lem af­fect­ing women in In­dia. Ac­cord­ing to char­ity Plan In­ter­na­tional UK, one in 10 dis­ad­van­taged girls be­low the age of 21 can­not af­ford san­i­tary prod­ucts.

The UK still has a 5% tax, de­spite cam­paign­ers call­ing for it to be scrapped.

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