It is a small revolution that is rising in Great Britain. Women are gathering in order to abolish a tax upon tampons. An online petition has already attracted more than 150,000 signatures. For half a century now, some sanitary products have been taxed as “non-essential, luxury” items. “There is nothing luxurious about periods” are saying many women. The campaign points with a lot of irony other items that are tax exempt: “edible sugar flowers”, “alcoholic jellies” and “exotic meats including crocodile and kangaroo”.
“The average woman buys, uses and throws away 11,000 tampons during her lifetime. In my local Tesco, a box of 20 regular Tampax costs £3.14. This means that someone earning minimum wage must work approximately 38 full working days to pay for her lifetime’s supply. Brushing over the fact that many people also use sanitary towels at the same time as tampons, five per cent of this cost is tax. Both are taxed as luxury, non-essential items – you are, quite literally, being tolled for having a uterus.”
After the UK joined the Common Market in 1973, a 17.5% sanitary tax was introduced. In 2000 Dawn Primarolo (Labour MP) announced that during the following year sanitary tax would be reduced to 5%. She explained the reduction was “about fairness, and doing what we can to lower the cost of a necessity”.
Like really, it will save you what, $10.00 a year. Seriously makes me feel embarrassed #tampontax
— Chantelle Wilson (@ChanMarie) 19 Février 2015
According to Natasha Preskey, this tax can be a real danger for women’s health. The journalist spoke to a woman called Beth, 22, who chose to opt out of menstruating altogether. She takes the combined contraceptive pill throughout the month, rather than face the cost of having a period. “I usually skip my placebo week to avoid having periods at all. I’ve asked a couple of doctors and nurses and had no clear answer on what the long term health effects might be but, at the end of the day, the pill is free and tampons aren’t.”
Canada is facing the same tampon problem with a 5% tax. People organising the campaign No Tax on Tampons said that the Canadian government won more than 32 millions euros in 2014 thanks to this tax.