As if the sheer discomfort menstruation brings to women each month isn’t enough, the added expenditure associated with this monster makes things even worse. To combat this very issue, a campaign is currently prodding the Government of India to abolish taxes on sanitary napkins entirely. #LahuKaLagaan that literally translates to ‘tax imposed on blood’ urges Finance Minister Arun Jaitely to exempt menstrual hygiene products like sanitary napkins from taxes that go upto 14.5 percent in some states.
You can go without attending that compulsory office outing during days you’re not particularly feeling rich, but the expense associated with menstrual hygiene products is as unavoidable as menstruation itself. But while the need for this campaign heralded by non-profit organisation, SheSays, cannot be emphasised upon enough, this is simply the first step in the direction.
How exactly? Well, according to SheSays, a specified 12 percent of India’s total female population has access to sanitary napkins. Which means, the remaining 88 per cent women are still surviving on traditional methods like cloth pads, dried leaves and newspapers. Maybe it’s this inequality that makes people believe sanitary napkins are a luxury item when, in fact, they are a necessity.
Cramps, lethargy, immense pain, and decreased productivity are some unavoidable facets of menstruation, but when women and girls are subjected to unhygienic period health and disposal practices, they’re also subjected to the perils of cervical cancer and Reproductive Tract Infections.
The data also highlights that adolescent girls miss at least 5 days of school monthly, due to their periods whereas close to 23 per cent girls drop out of school when they start menstruating.
So while #LahuKaLagaan might seem like a campaign heralding the idea of tax-free menstrual products, its real purpose goes much deeper than that. The idea is to not make this about the 12 per cent of women or leave behind the remaining 88 percent–but to use the occasion as a means to benefit the 100 per cent female population and make affordable menstrual hygiene a basic human right instead of the utopian dream it seems like today.