In the recent budget of Modi government, sanitary pads are considered as luxury items and taxed accordingly, despite their obvious necessity for a healthy life of women.
Access to feminine hygiene products encompasses a number of public health issues, and truly is a matter of social justice.
It is this inevitable nature of periods, coupled with the social expectation or norms that maintains that women and girls must not walk around freely bleeding, and leaving behind bio specimen samples on every item that we may sit on; that provides the central argument against the taxation of products that are used to manage menstruation.
So, women and girls have NO CHOICE but to purchase feminine hygiene products monthly.
Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.”
Now let’s ponder over a study by AC Nielsen to check how beautifully “Health equity” is ensured !
The ground reality of Indian menstrual health is shocking and disturbing. According to the same study only 12% of total woman in their menstrual age uses sanitary napkins, over 88% depends on the alternative unhygienic ways like in sanitized clothes, ashes and husk sand. This leads to a decline in productivity by 31%, where they miss average 2.2 days in their workplace, in North India over 30% of girls stopped going to school after the start of their menstrual cycle due to the lack of adequate sanitary products. 83% of these girl said that their family cannot afford sanitary pads.
Also this study shows that among woman who does not use sanitary pads, Reproductive Tract Infection (RTI) is 70% more common than those who have the access to it. The gynecologists claims the use of tampons can reduce the risk of cervical cancer and many more diseases related to the reproduction system.
What do the government supposes on the women’s part now?
Obviously this calls for a strong resistance!
Hence SFI has launched the nationwide Campaign while sending pads with #BleedWithoutFear written on it, to our finance minister Arun Jaitley and We demand the immediate withdrawal of the added taxation on sanitary napkins and ensure the maximum reach of the menstrual protection tools in lowest prices i.e. 1 Rupee per six pads.
We don’t see this only as a girl’s issue, rather it is something which is on the agenda of entire student movement. It is with this perspective that SFI has taken up various gender related issues in the past including the demand of elected and functional anti-sexual harassment committees in educational institutions, successful movement for special government buses for girl students in rural areas of Haryana and so on. The present campaign will also seek to make local level breakthroughs that will go on to strengthen the larger battle against patriarchal forces.
Facebook Page for this Campaign – https://www.facebook.com/bleedwithoutfear/