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India: huge relief for girls as officials scrap tax on sanitary pads


India on Saturday scrapped a controversial tax on sanitary pads, a move hailed by campaigners who say it will help more girls to go to school during their periods and boost their job prospects.

“I think that all mothers and sisters will be very happy to hear that sanitary pads are now 100 percent exempt from tax and has been made tax-free. And now sanitary pads will not fall under any category of Good and Services Tax”, said Indian’s interim Finance Minister, Piyush Goyal.

Activists say removing the tax on pads tackles one of the biggest barriers to education for girls, who are often forced to stay at home due to a lack of access to clean hygiene products, while also facing stigma and a lack of toilets in schools.

Periods are among the leading factors for girls to drop out of school in a country where four out of five women and girls are estimated by campaigners to have no access to sanitary pads.

Sanitary pads were taxed at 12 percent under India’s Goods and Services Tax launched in July 2017.

The decision triggered protests, petitions and court cases that questioned why the government taxed pads as a luxury rather than an essential item, such as condoms, which are tax-free.


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