Pushpita Mondal(Translated by Shanjida Nahar Priya):
The VAT on the sanitary pad has increased. Thereby price will increase. I do not understand how to make a necessary product like sanitary pad as a luxury good and put more tax on it. Where most of the girls in Bangladesh use clothes. Some use cotton, toilet paper. It is difficult to believe how much unhygienic are the clothes that have been used.
While living in rural areas, the women of the village used to use old sari, lungi, towel which is absolutely unworthy to use. And they brought these to dirty black water docks, canals beside the house and washed them all away unobservedly. It cannot be washed in the tube well or ponds. Then the drying system was even more awful. Haystacks, fences of cow house, bed corners, dark areas of the house, etc where no one else would see. Think about the whole process of using it, cleaning it and drying out it. How nauseous the situation is!
Many use cotton, the tissue instead of a pad or with a pad. Girls do it for financial reason. But it also has a terrible health risk. Cotton, tissue can melt and go inside the uterus. There are also rules for using the pad. It depends on the flow. It is not okay to use a pad more than two to two and a half hours for excessive flow and four to six hours in case of less flow. It can cause infection. But because of the high price of the pad, they wanted to use the tissue to use the pad for a long time. Even I had seen so many girls doing this while I was in Rokeya Hall.
A weird incident happened in my life once. It may be in 2009. I lived in a hall. I had gone to my childhood friend’s house in Ashuliya. She and her husband Hamim worked in a garments factory. I didn’t remember my period’s date, suddenly I got my period. She didn’t have a pad. She didn’t use a pad. We both went out of her house and went to the street. I got a lot of small pharmacies. But there was no pad anywhere. They said that nobody bought it so they didn’t keep it. I got so surprised. So many girls work here, no one uses a pad! However, there are at least fewer napkin packets in our village’s small pharmacies. But didn’t get it in garments area. What is the reason? only one reason- price. What is the salary of the garments workers?
Many people do not want to waste money by purchasing a pad for a cause they consider trivial, for instance, the period of the girls in their homes, even when they have the money. In addition, the major cause of uterus cancer is using clothes or anything like this in an unhealthy way. But the tax on these essential things has been increased again.
In a report of the Jugantar, I saw that the raw material that has been used for manufacturing international quality napkin is to be brought from outside, its Total Tax Incident(TTI) is 127.84%! Sanitary napkin is not a luxury product but an essential product. I don’t understand how they increase the VAT on a sanitary napkin in a country like Bangladesh, where most of the girls don’t even know how to use it. Rather than VAT, subsidies should be given.
In fact, the sanitary napkin is still a taboo in our society. If you say a bit loudly that you want to buy a pad, everyone in the shop looks at you and grin as if you are going to do something immoral. They whisper while buying a pad. When I came to my country this time, my husband brought a pad for me saying that the shopkeeper packed it in such a way that he was going to commit a crime. I told him, ” Now imagine how they stare when a girl goes?”
The period is not a secret disease. It is a natural process of every woman’s body. This should not be made into a taboo. And the pad is not a luxury product, every girl has the right to have this health benefit. Since Bangladesh is a poor country, and others in the family in most cases do not think much about this issue of women, girls themselves are not aware of their own body or they can not. So instead of increasing the tax on the Pad in this country, it should be made obtainable. Free pads should be provided at schools and colleges. We protest against the increase in VAT on sanitary napkins.
To read the original article in Bengali, Click Here.
Pushpita Mondal is a proud feminist who writes from time to time to express her opinion and reflections on women’s issues. A postgraduate from the University of Dhaka, she currently resides in New York. Her passions include reading and traveling.
Shanjida Nahar Priya is currently pursuing MSc in Economics from Jahangirnagar University. She is passionate about reading books, exploring new things and collecting makeup stuff.
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In the past few days, many in Bangladesh wrote against the decision on imposing VAT on the price of sanitary pads. (https://www.thedailystar.net/city/news/no-vat-pads-1763809)
In the face of strong opposition from the business community and women’s’ rights group, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has exempted supplementary duty (SD) on raw-material imports of sanitary napkins and diapers to protect the local industries.