Assam MP Sushmita Dev’s online petition seeking tax exemption on sanitary napkins has drawn overwhelming support. The petition which was started after International Women’s Day, has got more than 1,38,000 signatures so far.
The Silchar MP has already written to the Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in this regard. However, she claimed that she is yet to get a reply.
With the talks are on to implement the Good and Service Tax (GST) in the country, Sushmita said that this is the right time to get it (tax exemption) done. “Though some regions have already done it, it’s proper time to do it nationally so I decided to garner support from everyone through this petition. And I’m getting an overwhelming response. Everyone is helping the cause. Rahul Gandhi has tweeted about the same. Gaurav Gogoi and Varun Gandhi are among the signatories. I hope this reaches the finance minister,” Sushmita said.
Sushmita said if condoms and contraception are tax-free to promote their use for health reasons, so should sanitary napkins. In this regard, the Congress MP is getting support from politicians across party affiliations. “I have decided to start this after I didn’t get any response from the finance minister. He shouldn’t think I’m doing it for political mileage, so I thought let the people join hands together for this,” Sushmita added.
According to a study ‘Sanitary Protection: Every Woman’s Health Right’ around 70 per cent of women in India say their family can’t afford to buy sanitary napkins. In a shocking revelation, the report says mere 12 per cent of India’s 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins.
“This move will impact millions of girls and women in India. It will make sanitary napkins cheaper for the middle-class families and make them affordable to low income families for the first time. Girls and women face a lot of stigma and embarrassment around menstruation. They should not be burdened with a tax that makes safe, hygienic products more expensive,” Sushmita wrote in the petition.