Periods are no joke excepting of course that infamous South Park line; “I’m sorry Wendy, but I just don’t trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn’t die” – but in reality, we have to take this issue seriously. Women are spending thousands of pounds of their hard earned money on something that, in my opinion, should be free – though I’d settle for VAT free for starters. Men don’t want to hear about periods. Realistically I don’t blame them – unless you’re some sort of crazed medical student you’re probably not into casually discussing bodily fluids.
It doesn’t cross the minds of 77% of MPs that tampons should be tax free, and that’s not necessarily their fault but they need to listen up about something that discriminates millions. Women are being taxed on essential medical items because the government considers sanitary products to be a ‘lifestyle choice’.
It doesn’t add up. Women menstruating and men growing beards are both unstoppable, yet there is no tax on men’s razors. I don’t often use that phrase “I need feminism because…”, but in this case I think even the most misogynistic male would agree with me that this is pretty ridiculous. It seems to have escaped George Osborne that women can’t actually stop having periods, but I’m pretty sure that if they could choose, they’d stop them faster than you can say paracetamol.
A petition on change.org has been set up, gathering over 10,000 signatures in the space of a few weeks, sending an open letter to lobby Mr Osborne to make sanitary products for women tax free. The letter states that “They [sanitary products] are vital to maintaining a healthy and normal life.” The clue really is in the name – sanitary. Studies into the health risks of infection, the spread of disease, as well as general public sanitation, all show that towels, tampons etc. are an essential part of being a healthy woman.
The petition also lists a variety of ‘essential’ items where 0% VAT charges apply; caravans, houseboats, maps, alcoholic dessert jellies, edible cake decorations (specifying particularly sugar flowers and chocolate scrolls) as well as that common shopping trolley item – crocodile steak. To me, all of these things seem like lifestyle choices; none of them would disgust Mr Osborne if they weren’t present in everyday life – though clearly the man can’t live without a beautifully decorated cake. So sign the petition, write to a politician – grow a beard in solidarity! The taxation on essential healthcare products needed by over 50% of the UK’s population is insane and shows why a dose of feminism (and common sense) still needs to be injected into politics today.