New Delhi, May 30 : Congress leader and MP Sushmita Dev on Tuesday slammed the BJP-led central government for being “insensitive” while branding the soon to be rolled out comprehensive indirect tax regime the Goods and Services Tax a failure on “gender-sensitive” issues.
Dev’s criticism came after the Centre rejected the demand for making sanitary napkins affordable and tax-free.
“As India makes history by implementing the GST, women’s empowerment has been completely ignored. The BJP government, despite repeated demands, has failed to make the GST gender-sensitive,” she said.
“The government is insensitive to the demand of half of India’s population by not exempting the tax on sanitary napkins,” said Dev in a statement.
Dev also said that the GST could have been instrumental in making an important intervention by making sanitary napkins tax-free or minimally taxed.
“Neither happened despite my petition being supported by more than three lakh men and women. In my meeting with Union Ministers J.P. Nadda, Maneka Gandhi and Arun Jaitley, no one seemed to disagree that menstruation is still a stigma,” said Dev.
“In India, only 12 per cent women use napkins and poor menstrual hygiene is a cause of serious health issues and even deaths for women especially in rural India,” she added.
Dev further said that girls increasingly drop out of schools primarily due to problems related to menstruation as it works as an obstacle to their education.
“A government that runs a campaign ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ actually missed the point. While child sex ratio and high percentage of women staying out of the education system was targeted under this slogan the complete non-application of mind is apparent,” she said.
Affordability and accessibility are two primary reasons for such dismal figures of women using hygienic napkins, said Dev.
“Equality of opportunity cannot be a reality unless we equip our girls better to access these opportunities. Poor menstrual hygiene impacts the women’s right to life,” she added.
Dev said: “Menstruation is an involuntary physical process which is outside the control of women and use of napkins is a necessity and yet the GST Council did not treat it at par with other essential commodities.
“Our constitution permits special laws for women and children and yet the demand of half the population of India … was rejected by the BJP government,” she said.