Representational image

Sushmita Dev, a member of Parliament from Assam, has started a petition to make sanitary napkins more affordable in India. in her petition named ‘Tax Free Wings’ she asks Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to reduce or abolish the tax on sanitary napkins, a necessity for millions of women in India. Dev says that 12% of the 355 million women use sanitary napkins and 70 % of women cannot afford sanitary napkins. Sanitary napkins are liable to a VAT that varies state by state and this is expected to continue even under the GST (Goods and Services Tax).

“Women are being taxed 12 months a year, for about 39 years on a process they have no control over,” says the petition. She aims to make it more affordable and accessible. She tells The News Minute, “I cannot petition the Finance Ministry about awareness though. What I can do in my own constituency is raise capital funding for vending machines to be installed in schools and public toilets.”

In her petition, Dev asks for a minimal tax can be imposed on disposable sanitary napkins to encourage the use of reusable cloth sanitary napkins and environment friendly napkins and a 100% tax exemption for eco-friendly sanitary napkins.

This step will only bolster the idea of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ and ‘Swachh Bharat’ says the petition. The petition has received more than 1500 signatures to date.

The AAP government in Delhi recently made sanitary napkins that cost Rs 20 tax-free. Those that cost above Rs 20  will attract a reduced taxation of 5 percent from 12.5 percent.