A group of almost 100 women (and two men) gathered outside 10 Downing St recently to protest against the 5 per cent tax on tampons.
Under law they are taxed as a ‘luxury, non-essential item’, unlike products such as men’s razors, exotic meats, including crocodile and kangaroo, as well as edible sugar cake decorations and flapjacks.
Periods are certainly not non-essential or luxurious; and to thousands of women who are homeless or living below the poverty line in England, they are a monthly nightmare, where they are forced to scrape together pennies to avoid the humiliation that not owning these ‘luxuries’ would bring.
The petition on Change.org calling on the government to axe the tax on tampons and pads has gathered over 200,000 signatures, with the number still growing. The campaign’s founder, 21-year-old student Laura Coryton told The Daily Telegraph: “It says women aren’t important, and that’s a really dangerous message to send.”
In terms of cost, the additional tax on top of tampons would only cost a woman just over £5 a year.
However, the fact that as a medical supply, they are not even partially funded by the government to help the most vulnerable in society escape from the monthly humiliation of not being able to afford to cope with their period is something that I find shocking.
Considering that thankfully the government supplies items such as birth control pills and condoms for free, it poses a serious question as to why the same courtesy is not extended towards the inevitable monthly ‘gift’ half of the population receives through by no choice of their own.
So, my question to Chancellor George Orbourne is – spot the luxury: tampons or kangaroo meat?