One of the most active debates swarming the country in recent months is the issue of ‘tampon tax’. The government has been under immense scrutiny as sanitary items are legally taxed as ‘luxury items’.
All women will probably agree, whilst holed up in bed clutching a hot water bottle in pain, that our monthly menstruation is far from ‘luxury’. When many MP’s voted in favour of keeping the tax, it sparked further debate surrounding gender inequality, despite years of campaigning for equal rights.
Change.org, a petitioning site which has provoked action among many different causes across the globe, has received 250,000 signings on a petition demanding David Cameron to act on the ‘tampon tax’. Whether he plans to abolish the tax is a question which currently remains unanswered.
Many women have taken to social media to express their outrage. Some took to Parliament itself in protest. An array of bold signs, reading “No uterus, no opinion”and “I will bleed on your capitalism” flooded Westminster. Some women even forewent tampons and instead freely bled, on white trousers, in order to gain media attention.
Twitter exploded with angry tweets using the hashtag #tampontax – mocking how needless items such as flapjacks, jaffa cakes, razors, edible flowers, crocodile meat and even helicopters are considered more essential.
Statistics released by The Independent, reveal that the average woman will buy around 11,000 tampons throughout her lifetime. These costs add up and it’s certainly not something any of us enjoy spending money on, especially when taxed so arbitrarily. Although the tax has been considerably reduced since 2000 from 17.5% to 5%, the unfair principles remain. It seems that the argument is not entirely against the tax itself, but rather the idea that women must pay for genuine necessities which could jeopardise their health.
The good news is that we, mere female members of the public, are not alone. The Scottish National Party has called for the tax to be acquitted according to MP Alison Thewliss. Jeremy Corbyn has also jumped on board in support. The remaining eight liberal democrats in parliament have agreed to vote in support of an amendment which will force George Osborne to reconsider the ‘tampon tax’ with the EU.
Labour MP, Stella Creasy, passionately argued in Parliament: “Tampons and sanitary towels, even I’m struggling with the word tonight it seems, have always been considered a luxury. That isn’t by accident. It was by design of an unequal society in which the concerns of women are not treated as equally as the concerns of men”.
The tax may seem small and essentially unimportant, but it can be said that it highlights the basic inequalities, that women are subjected to, in the society we live in.
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