The tax, which was implemented last July, treated menstrual hygiene products as luxury items. Women’s rights groups immediately dubbed the measure “Lahu ka Lagaan” in Hindi, which translates to “blood tax” in English. Groups like She Says India argued that the Indian government should be making it easier, not harder, for people who menstruate to access pads and tampons.
Founder Trisha Shetty noted to the BBC in 2017 that only 12 percent of Indian women and girls currently use pads and tampons because of a lack of access to affordable products. The remainder would use rags, leaves and other non-sanitary items during menstruation — measures that often lead to infection and other illnesses.
We are elated that the govt has decided to exempt sanitary napkins from GST. To see our collective efforts to fight #LahuKaLagaan reach a satisfying conclusion encourages us to continue to strive until accessible and affordable sanitary products is a reality for women all over. https://t.co/E19mt5MdPB
— SheSays (@SheSaysIndia) July 22, 2020
“To see our collective efforts to fight #LahuKaLagaan reach a satisfying conclusion encourages us to continue to strive until accessible and affordable sanitary products is a reality for women all over,” the She Says Twitter account posted on Saturday.
Thank you to Advocate Mihir Desai, @karunanundy and @fayedsouza amongst the other supporters, who played a huge role in making this happen. Lot more to be done to ensure women have guaranteed access to menstraul hygiene, but this is a great victory for all. #lahukalagaan https://t.co/n0rjfINkts
— Trisha Shetty (@TrishaBShetty) July 21, 2020
Activists cautioned that eliminating the tax was only part of the battle to make period supplies available to all Indian people who need them. “Lot more to be done to ensure women have guaranteed access to menstrual hygiene, but this is a great victory for all,” wrote She Says India founder Trisha Shetty.
A key lawmaker who pushed to eliminate the tax was Member of Parliament Sushmita Dev. Dev created a petition calling for the end of the tax and called for pads to be tax free across India. Such a move, she noted in the petition, had the ability to immediately change the lives of ordinary Indians for the better. “This move will impact millions of girls and women. It will make sanitary napkins cheaper and make them affordable for low-income families for the first time,” she wrote on the petition’s page. “Girls and women face a lot of stigma and embarrassment for menstruation.”
The petition received 90,000 signatures immediately after it launched.