मासिक पाळी झाली करमुक्त



    देशभरातून वर्षभर आवाज उठल्यानंतर, प्रसिद्धी माध्यमांनी अनेकदा त्याकडे लक्ष वेधल्यानंतर अखेर गेल्या महिन्यात सरकारच्या डोक्यात प्रकाश पडला आणि सॅनिटरी पॅडवरचा जीएसटी रद्द झाला. 
    साधारण वर्षभरापूर्वी, म्हणजे गेल्या वर्षीच्या जुलै महिन्यात देशात जीएसटी ही नवी करपद्धत लागू केली गेली. संपूर्ण देशात एकाच पद्धतीने कर आकारणी करण्याच्या नांवाखाली अनेक वस्तूंच्या करांमध्ये फेरफार केले गेले. सरकारला ज्या गोष्टी महत्त्वाच्या, जीवनावश्यक वाटत होत्या, त्या वस्तूंवर कमी कर आणि ज्या चैनीच्या, जीवनावश्यक नाहीत, अशा छानछौकीच्या गोष्टी वाटतील, त्यावर जास्त कर, असं साधारण गणित होतं. यात महिलांनी कपाळाला लावायचं कुंकू, टिकल्या, काजळ या वस्तू करमुक्त केल्या गेल्या; आणि सॅनिटरी पॅडवर मात्र १२ टक्के कर आकारला गेला. सॅनिटरी पॅड ही सरकारच्या दृष्टीने अशी महिलांसाठी आवश्यक नसलेली वस्तू ठरली; कुंकू टिकली आणि काजळ मात्र आवश्यक!
    जीएसटीचा फेरआढावा घेण्यासाठी आणि त्यात वेळोवेळी आवश्यक ते बदल करण्यासाठी ‘जीएसटी काऊंसिल’ नांवाची समिती नेमण्यात आली आहे. केंद्र सरकारने देशपातळीवर नेमलेल्या या समितीत ३१ सदस्य आहेत. पण, त्यात एकही महिला नाही. सॅनिटरी पॅडसारखीच स्त्रीही या सरकारला अनावश्यक बाब वाटत असावी! सॅनिटरी पॅड ही महिलांच्या आरोग्याच्यादृष्टीने खरी तर अत्यावश्यक बाब. हे पॅड महिलांनी वापरावेत, म्हणून अनेक स्वयंसेवी संस्था कार्यरत आहेत. ‘आरोग्य संवर्धनाचा कार्यक्रम’ म्हणून अनेक राज्यात सरकारच ग्रामीण, आदिवासी, गरीब महिलांना हे पॅड मोफत किंवा सवलतीच्या दराने वाटत आहेत. पण, केंद्रातल्या सरकारला याची ना माहिती, ना जाणीव. त्यांनी त्यावर १२ टक्के कर लावलाच; शिवाय तो हटवायलाही समितीच्या २७ बैठका आणि वर्षभराचा काळ जावा लागला.
    दिल्लीतल्या ‘जवाहरलाल नेहरू विद्यापीठा’त शिकणार्‍या जरमीना इसरार खान या २७ वर्षांच्या विद्यार्थीनीने पॅड करमुक्त केले जावेत, म्हणून जनहित याचिका दाखल केली होती. या याचिकेच्या सुनावणी दरम्यान न्यायालयाने सरकारला चांगलंच फैलावर घेतलं. उत्तर प्रदेशातल्या पिलभीत या काहीशा मागास भागातून आलेल्या जरमीनाचं म्हणणं होतं, ‘सरकारने पॅड करमुक्त केलीच पाहिजेत. आधीच बाजारात ती इतकी महाग मिळतात, की सामान्य मुलींना, महिलांना ती वापरता येत नाहीत. मी ज्या भागांत वाढले, त्या भागांत मी महिलांना मासिक पाळीच्या काळात वृत्तपत्राची रद्दी, राख किंवा रेती वापरतांना पाहिलं आहे. आरोग्याचे अनेक प्रश्‍न त्यातून निर्माण झाले होते. पॅड करमुक्त झाली पाहिजेत, असं म्हणत होते सगळेच. पण, करत कोणीच काही नव्हतं. म्हणून शेवटी मीच न्यायालायात जाण्याचं ठरवलं!
    महाराष्ट्रात लातूर जिल्ह्यातल्या पारधेवाडीच्या छाया काकडे या आमच्या कार्यकर्त्या सखीने जून २०१७ मध्ये मुंबईत आझाद मैदानात ८ दिवस उपोषण केलं होतं. मागणी मान्य होत नाही, म्हणून या वर्षी पुन: ७ दिवसांचं उपोषण केलं. त्यांच्याबरोबरच्या त्यांच्या सहकारी महिला कार्यकर्त्याही उपोषणाला बसल्या होत्या. मुंबईतल्या सुप्रिया सोनार यांनीही ही मागणी लावून धरली होती. सांगायचा मुद्दा एवढाच की, महिलांच्यादृष्टीने अतिशय महत्त्वाच्या असलेल्या या मागणीलाही सुखासुखी, सहज प्रतिसाद मिळाला नाही. देशभरात अनेक पातळीवर अनेक जणींना त्यासाठी झगडावं लागलं. सरकारला ते शेवटी ऐकावं लागलंच, हे महत्त्वाचं.
    सॅनिटरी पॅडच्या वापराबाबतही आज अनेक मुद्दे उपस्थित केले जात आहेत. त्याची जाणीव आपल्याला आहे. ‘बहिणा’च्या येत्या अंकातून आपण त्याबाबतही चर्चा करू. पण, तोपर्यंत सर्वसामान्य महिलांना त्यातल्या त्यात परवडणार्‍या या साधनाची भरमसाठ करातून मुक्ता झाली, बाईच्या मासिक पाळीबद्दल काहीतरी संवेदना दाखवली गेली; याबद्दल समाधान मानलं पाहिजेच.

~संपादक

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