It's actually infuriating enough that such a basic necessity was originally deemed a luxury product, and taxed, quite inexcusably, at 14.5 percent.
Now, according to the new Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates that are to be unveiled come the 1st of July, the GST council has already declared the upcoming rates for certain products.
Of those, sanitary pads, towels, and tampons were declared taxable at 12 percent (the second lowest tax slab, the first being 5 percent). However, items like sindoor, bangles and bindis (nowhere close to as crucial in a well-being sense) were declared to be tax free.
It's deeply disturbing that the government of India legitimate has its idea of a 'woman's well-being' this askew.
In the same vein as tampons being declared to be 'for married woman only' on as judgmental a note in the inside instruction pamphlets of tampons sold in India, this tax-led decision proves that the government, yet again, has made a judgment called steeped in societal notions of 'right' and 'wrong' for a woman in this country.
A study recently shocked the country when it revealed that only 12 percent of India's 355 million menstruating women use sanitary napkins, while 88 percent of women have to resort to utterly appalling substitutes, like questionably-hygienic cloth, ashes and husk sand.
A gargantuan contributing factor to this is because around 70 percent of women in India say their families can't afford to buy them sanitary pads.
You know what might colossally help that troubling statistic?
Having them bloody go TAX FREE!
In a situation where we should be finding a way to subsidise the base cost of producing them, we've only recently brought the taxation on it down from a luxury good?
"Hmmm... I wonder—shall I get those new Cookies-N-Cream Hershey Kisses they fly in from LA, or shall I get myself a box of pads this month? Tough call. They're both such a luxury, I wonder if I deserve either."
The idea that, on the other hand, sindoor, an idea rooted in tradition over essentiality, is considered less peripheral than helping women deal with a legitimate biological need is indicative of a huge gap in the governments evolved understanding of both women, and of people.
We can only hope that this decision in revoked and reconsidered ASAP, in the interest of every woman in the country—in particular, the 88 percent that need the government to just get this the most.