October 29, 2015

Tampon Taxing? How Bloody Disgusting!


A #TamponTax in 2015? How bloody disgusting (pun intended). Yep, that's right: today I will be sharing my thoughts on the recent 'tampon tax' debate and why we need to tackle the period taboo. Period.

The 'tampon tax' debate seems to be almost an annual event. Like clockwork, it rears its head, and raises age old concerns which can essentially be boiled down to the following: applying a tax to items used exclusively by females constitutes institutionalised sex discrimination in every sense of the term, and; tampons and sanitary towels are essential for women to function normally on a daily basis during their period. Essential. Essential. I.e. not a luxury! This is a controversial and unequivocally frustrating topic, and many question whether a tampon tax really has a place in the 21st century.

So, why are we taxed on sanitary items to begin with? Originally, VAT was introduced on sanitary products at a rate of 17.5%, after the UK joined the Common Market in 1973. After lobbying by Labour MP Dawn Primarolo, this tax was reduced to 5% in 2000. To this day, government ministers insist that this is the lowest rate of tax allowed under EU law (Council Directive 2006/112/EC sets the framework regarding VAT in EU states). This is controversial, because other products, classified as 'essential,' can be given a 0% tax rate, and are therefore exempt (this includes exotic meats such as crocodile!).

Half the population menstruates. Do we do so by choice? No. We do so by the very powers of nature. We do so with the sole aim of procreation; to keep the existence of mankind going. So why are we, as women, being financially penalised because our wondrous bodies seek to uphold the wishes of nature, [some may say] of God?

The most recent debate arose after Labour MP Paula Sherriff proposed an amendment to the Government's Finance Bill; she was backed by the party's frontbench. In a vote in the House of Commons on Monday, the amendment was rejected by 305 to 287 votes. Current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP was one of the 305 voters who voted against the amendment. However, 19% of the vote against the amendment was made up of women such as Lucy Allan (MP for Telford) and Caroline Ansell (MP for Eastbourne and Willingdon), just to name a couple. Ladies... what are you doing?! It makes me shudder to think that women aren't standing united on a matter which, in its very essence, is gender inequality!

I guess that that same 19% of female MP's don't care about the financial obligations being forced on women here, do they? I mean, why would they, when they're reaping the benefits of a £74,000 annual salary (average, per the IPSA, as of July 2015)...

Women are advised to change their sanitary item every three-four hours (though most do so every time they use the toilet). Assuming the use of tampons, this means that the average woman would use six tampons per day. Also assuming the average woman endures a five-day period (though most women can bleed for a week), and that they are purchasing leading brand, Tampax, she would spend £4.19 on tampons during just one period (figure based on purchase of 32PK Tampax Compak)... and don't forget this is the bare minimum; most women bleed for longer, and a lot of women also use sanitary towels! The 5% tax on a 32PK Tampax Compak is equal to £0.2095. Times that by twelve to reach an annual figure, and you have £2.51. So, abolishing the tax added to the sale of sanitary items would only save women [approximately] £2.50 per year, but it's the principle... that's £2.50 that men do not have to pay! The tax represents an awfully outdated view of women and their periods.

Women need sanitary protection. Say we go without, on the first day of our period, when our flow is at its heaviest (sorry if this is too graphic for some of you, but let's be real here). Say we bleed, uncontrollably, onto other people's property as a result. What is our position then? Are we criminally liable for any damage? Are we disgusting? Are we unhygienic? Open your eyes.

During the debate, Tory MP Sir Bill Cash struggled to utter the word 'tampon,' instead referring to the matter of the debate as 'these items.' We need to abolish the taboo. We need to educate our adolescent males on the very nature of periods, and deter anyone from thinking of periods as embarrassing, dirty, unclean or as being 'a choice.'

I’m sure this won’t be the last mention of #TamponTax. In fact, it may very well be the first for a new generation of young women and MP’s. Periods are no luxury; you cannot opt-in, nor can you opt-out. You simply have to ride the wave for the 30-40 years your body is able to menstruate. For the moment, I guess all we can do is continue to educate and explain, in the hope of inspiring and bringing about change. And I guess we'll just have to sacrifice the odd glass of vino along the way to compensate for the tax... God Damnit!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the tampon tax debate. Would you have voted for or against the amendment as an MP and what's your reasoning? Do you think there are more pressing socio-economic issues for women to be worrying about and fighting against? Let me know!
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10 comments

  1. preach it girl, preach! I love this! And the first time I heard about this I too was outraged!
    Lets hope the world can change and abolish the shame that is to talk about periods!

    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

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    1. Haha! I just had to have my say. Outrageous isn't it?!xx

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  2. Love this! I would even go one further and say sanitary items should be heavily subsidised like basic painkillers are xx

    Jasmine Talks Beauty | Zoeva Giveaway

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    1. I totally agree with that suggestion. This is such an infuriating subject. How can sanitary items possibly be classified as 'luxury' items?!xx

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    2. Absolutely! I totally agree! These items are SO EXPENSIVE already, it's ridiculous! What options do we have? The ability to bleed in a discreet and sanitary manner affects our ability to function in the workplace and in society. How is this not already free (as condoms are) in every public place?!?

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  4. It's bad enough that we have to go through cramps and bleeding. They should be supportive, not the direct opposite!

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  5. I get so frustrated when I read about things like this... But I think that opinions are changing and more MPs in the future will strive to scrap the tax.

    Claire // Technicolour Dreamer

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    1. We can only hope that next time around, things will be different!

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