It’s Time to Abolish the Tampon Tax

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Men’s razors, children’s nappies, Jaffa cakes, exotic meats, edible cake decorations and nuts with their shells. What do all of these items have in common? When you buy one of these you will not be taxed because they are considered a necessary item for everyday life. 50% of the population are women, the majority of women, once a month, experience menstruation and need to use products such as tampons and sanitary towels to go about day to day life. 

However, tampons are still taxed. More than 4.5 billion boxes are tampax were bought last year this is an incredible amount of money spent on something that women need, not want. In addition, the average woman in the UK uses 12,000 tampons a year- each tampon costs about £0.16 which seems little, however when you consider the amount women have to buy, the price is hefty. Let alone buying sanitary towels, pain killers and other necessities for one week every month. The average tax is 20% of the product, tampons are only charged 5% but even this aids period poverty.

One might ask, why, in this day and age, have they not scraped this ridiculous tax? The reason for this was when the UK joined the EU we became subject to certain laws including tax laws. While the threat of breaching international law may be high, it could be argued that listening to the needs of 50% of your population is greater. Indeed, if women cannot afford sanitary products then they might miss 12 weeks a year of work, which is in fact an economic loss to the government. 

Additionally, Germany have eradicated the tax – the first member of the EU to do this. The first ever country to eliminate the ridiculous tax was Kenya, other countries such as Australia, Canada, India and several US states followed. Whatever your opinion might be on Brexit, at least one benefit is that the UK does not have to be sovereign to ridiculous laws such as this. We should leave this law behind in 2020! Adding to the horror, it is anti-abortion groups that are beneficiaries to the tampon tax, perhaps suggesting there are several political reasons behind the tax.

One step forward that was made, was called the Red Box project which resulted in all UK schools having to supply girls with sanitary items. This may not seem like a big deal to some girls, but to the 1 in 10 girls who cannot afford to buy menstrual products and the 137,000 kids in the UK who have missed school because of period poverty, this is a huge deal. Before this may girls who use socks, newspaper and 20% of girls have used toilet roll. The fact is, to many women in the UK the tampon tax is annoying, disrespectful and frankly misogynistic but it does not stop them from buying sanitary items. For sexist reasons alone this law should be abolished. 

However, arguably more importantly, it should be stopped for the women and girls who face period poverty every month; who cannot go to school, get their qualifications and get a good job. The tampon tax is more than something that seems ridiculous, it can be the difference between being lifted out of poverty or not. 

It is not just, to subject girls to stay at home because of something that happens to us involuntarily.  Having a period is natural. 

Abolishing this law is not a question, it is not a debate, it should just be done.

Image: Stylist