It is illogical on the part of the government to have imposed zero percent GST on condoms and 12% on sanitary napkins. While the former is a welcome move, the latter is a disastrous one which is going to hit the Red Light industry real bad in terms of health hazards and precautions.
Red Light Industry Delves Further Into Darkness
For Example, Sonagachi, Asia’s largest Red Light area which is situated near Kolkata is the one which has been hit the most by the absurd rise in tax.
Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC) is an organization which majorly caters to the state’s sex workers having more than 1,30,000 registered members under it. Approximately 65,000 thousand packets of sanitary napkins are being sold from Durbar to sex workers only in Kolkata.
After a sustained and successful campaign, women were made aware of the importance of sanitary napkins but with the latest order, all efforts might go into vain.
Will The Objective Be Achieved?
“Over the years, we had worked hard to bring down the prevalence of HIV AIDS from 5-6 per cent (2000) to the current less than 2 per cent. We wanted to bring it to zero by 2025,” said Dr. Smarajit Jana, mentor of the Durbar committee and the brain behind the bank.
“We welcome zero GST on condoms. But GST has sent shockwaves too. Over the years, we were able to convince sex workers to use sanitary napkins. Most poor sex workers depend on our subsidized napkins. But now, there is a chance they will not use napkins, thereby becoming vulnerable to health hazards.”
PIL Against The Imposition
A Mumbai based NGO has already filed a PIL on the grounds that only 12% women in India can afford sanitary napkins and further imposing 12% GST will only worsen matters.
No More Subsidised Costs
As per the records, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee used to procure one sanitary napkin at Rs 3.33 and sell them at 63 paise. After GST, it will have to eke out Rs 8 for one napkin from the manufacturers. The cost of selling will go up, making it difficult for the women at areas like Sonagachi to buy them.
This is what a sex worker had to say,
“Condoms are our lifeline, and it is good that there is no GST on them. But now, they are saying that napkin prices will go up. I don’t understand GST but already, clients are less, some girls may not be keen on using napkins, and make do with a cloth to save money.”
Temporary Back Up
Since the court proceedings will take time before a decision on the 12% GST is taken, health experts have suggested that extremely poor women should switch to organic, environment-friendly, reusable and body-friendly alternatives of sanitary pads such as cloth pads made with cotton, hemp or bamboo, or menstrual cups.
It’s a sad situation, to say the least. It may seem a small matter on the outset but the consequences can be hazardous over a period of time if proper action isn’t taken.
Image Credits- Google Images