Actor and slam poet Kalki Koechlin has added her voice to the comments (video above) on the uninformed stereotypes associated with menstruation, and on the GST (Goods and Services Tax) imposed on sanitary napkins in India. She poses the pertinent question: why, for a process as natural as the sun rising and setting, do women still have to pay a tax of 12 percent, especially when commodities like condoms come tax-free?
It’s a question many enraged women in India have been asking following the imposition of GST in July, which saw a tax of 12 percent on sanitary napkins, an inconsequential drop from the pre-GST 13.7 percent. In other words, precious little change.
Koechlin raises some valid points, as she addresses the shaming – “I’m still given my pads wrapped in black polythene” – and the regressive beliefs still associated with women’s periods in India. She points out how natural the process of menstruation is – “It’s just nature. The same way it becomes dark at night, and bright in the morning, women get their periods” – and demands discussion and discourse on the subject.
However, Koechlin’s video skips the primary problem a huge section of women in the country face – tax or no tax, sanitary napkins, like most disposable menstrual hygiene products, are not too expensive for people from lower income groups.
An online petition by Green the Red, a women-led campaign to raise awareness of menstruation and women’s health, has stressed upon the need for the government to cut tax on reusable and affordable methods of sanitation for women, like menstrual cups or menstrual cloth.