Import Tax On All Menstrual Products To Be Cut In Sri Lanka In A Bid To End Period Poverty

Due to a reduction on import duties, imported menstrual products will receive a 20% price decrease in Sri Lanka.

Cover image via Nazly Ahmed/Flickr & CU Denver News

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The Sri Lankan government has declared a tax cut on menstrual products in an effort to help women and young girls who are unable to afford them

According to an AFP report, the Southeast Asian country suffered severe shortages in essential goods and high inflation rates, which went up to 70%. This caused many to protest against the economic downfall of the nation, which resulted in the resignation of former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa this past July.

Due to the economic downturn last year, many Sri Lankan women and young girls were unable to afford menstrual products, causing many to just stay at home. However, this has been a prevalent issue in Sri Lanka even before the downturn.

Additionally, around 2.6 million women in Sri Lanka experienced 'period poverty', which occurs when women are unable to afford sanitary products.

Period poverty is a widespread issue for women and can cause physical, mental, and emotional damage. It can cause shame and perpetuate the stigma surrounding a natural bodily process such as menstruation. Furthermore, it can also lead to other health concerns if waste management or hygiene amenities are not readily available.  

Sri Lankan protestors storming the presidential compound of former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to demand his resignation.

Image via Al Jazeera

To combat the issue of period poverty in Sri Lanka, the government announced that import duty taxes for all sanitary product materials would be waived with immediate effect

President Ranil Wickremesinghe's office released a statement on Sunday, 2 October and specified the tax waiver included customs duties, airport levies, and other local taxes on raw materials used to manufacture sanitary products.

The office also announced that imported menstrual pads and tampons will have a 20% decrease in cost as a result of the imported goods tax waiver.

The statement rationalised the decision, saying, "[The government hopes to] make hygiene products more affordable in view of ensuring hygiene among women and school girls."

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Society for Women's Health Research

Aside from Sri Lanka, Scotland has also made efforts to address the issue of the affordability of sanitary products for women, and went ahead in making them free for its citizens

The Period Products bill was officially passed as a law by Scottish legislators on 15 August after being unanimously passed in November 2020.

According to the bill, period products will be made accessible to women in public buildings across Scotland, including places such as schools and universities. All products available will be completely free of charge.

However, this wasn't the first time the Sottish government made efforts to absolve the issue of period poverty. Back in 2018, the government announced that students in schools, colleges, and universities across the nation would have free access to sanitary products. And in 2019, the law was expanded to include libraries and recreational centres too.

Scottish politician Monica Lennon and her supporters celebrating the new law in Scotland where citizens are provided with free period products across the country.

Image via @MonicaLennon7 (Twitter)

Amazing Malaysian individuals are currently doing their best to help absolve the issue of period poverty for Malaysian women:

There are still others who continue to make light of the issue and cause public outrage:

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