The Government has refuted a report that sanitary napkins have been classified as a luxury item and excise tax on them has been increased to 40%. The report went viral on social media.
Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat tweeted that the Excise Department has not classified sanitary napkins as luxury items, or imposed a 40% tax on the product, as claimed by Pheu Chart party spokeswoman Ms. Katepriya Kaewsaenmuang.
She said that the Government regards sanitary napkins as a necessity adding, however, that the products are subject to 7% VAT.
The misleading report has provoked complaints from women’s groups, including change.org, Thailand’s website promoting societal change, which has launched a campaign to provide all women with access to sanitary napkins at affordable prices.
“Menstruation is a physical process which incurs extra expense for women. It has nothing to do with whether they can afford it. It is an expense that women must bear because we cannot choose our gender,” Chittima Panudecha of the Foundation for Understanding of Women’s Health was quoted as saying.
The foundation has campaigned for the product not to be classified as a luxury item, but an item which must be made accessible to all women, citing the UK, where the Government has cut tax on feminine hygiene products and donated about £15 million to a charitable organization to provide free sanitary napkins to women, Scotland where €4 million was donated by the Government to provide them and India where the items are tax exempt.
“This not about privilege for women, but a right based on the physical requirements of women, a right which must be protected by the state,” according to the foundation.