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Hyderabad: 12% GST on sanitary napkins, artist protests by painting city black

Image Courtesy: India Live Today

A city artist is trying hard to become the voice of unheard, by highlighting the issues on which women are shying away to speak up!

Yes! The 12 % GST on sanitary napkins – a tax imposed on a ‘cultural nation’ where women speaking up are already squeezed, even in worse matters like child marriages, deaths due to dowry or rapes.

But, not all tend to remain quiet, amongst whom is ‘Swathi’ an artist screaming about GST in sanitary napkins.

Know How?

By painting on city walls messages like:

“I can’t avoid my personal hygiene though I’m not rich”

And another place, she has painted:

“I’m on my luxurious period now. And I’m speaking out.”

She has already done it for three days at different places and idea is to write it for five days.

Swathi along with her husband Vijay, both of who graduated from the Jawaharlal Nehru University Fine Arts College, Masab Tank, have taken their art places. They have painted buildings making them look attractive. For Swathi’s latest initiative, she has Vijay’s full support.

“It is natural isn’t it?”

Swathi asked about her going public about her very personal thing.

“Where there is no GST on bindi, why should there be GST on sanitary napkins?” she questioned with conviction that has showed up in her writings at some of the main thoroughfares in the city, including Filmnagar.

“I do not know if this will reach finance minister Arun Jaitley, but I sincerely wish the voice of women is heard,” Swathi told TOI.

An online campaign had been taken up by an MP that sanitary napkins should be exempted from GST.

TRS MP from Nizamabad and Chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter Kavitha Kalvakuntla too had made a representation to Arun Jaitley that sanitary napkins should be exempted.

All the pleas seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Swathi, however, has not given up. She is making use of her art to highlight a cause. “It does not take much time to do it. In fact, I am excited trying to make my voice heard through art,” she said.

Even as Swathi is making the walls speak loud with her art, women have taken to social media to highlight the issue.

When the centre introduced GST on sanitary napkins it argued that in pre-GST, sanitary napkins had attracted a concessional excise duty of 6% and 5% VAT and. “The pre-GST estimated total tax incidence on sanitary napkins was 13.68%. Therefore, 12% GST rate had been provided for sanitary napkin,” the government explained.

Swathi has her line of argument. “Under GST, which is labeled as Good Simple Tax, the Indian government has made Kumkum, bindi and bangles tax-free but, levied 12 per cent luxury tax on sanitary pads. We must understand it is essential and should be affordable to all women for proper menstrual hygiene. About 80 percent of the Indian women can’t afford to buy sanitary pads,” she had her point!