Finally! The tampon tax is going to be banned

18 Mar 2016

<p class="story-body__introduction">Amazing news this

morning...

<p class="story-body__introduction">A deal has finally been struck

by EU leaders to scrap the tampon tax.

<p class="story-body__introduction">

Alamy

<p class="story-body__introduction">Chancellor George Osborne

said the government "heard people's anger over paying the tampon

tax loud and clear", and now two options have been presented in

order to allow a zero rate of tax on all sanitary

products.

Tax on sanitary products is currently charged at a reduced rate of 5% but more than 300,000 people have signed a petition to have tax scarped completely. Obviously somebody heard our cries...

After pledging to spend the proceeds of the tax on women's charities, Mr Osborne added that they've already "distributed £17m to good causes across the country".

He concluded: "We've achieved what no British government has even tried to achieve. It just shows how Britain can make a case for a reform that will benefit millions as a powerful, confident voice inside a reformed EU."

<p class="story-body__introduction">What a

victory.

On the 25 November 2015, we wrote...

<p class="story-body__introduction">George Osborne has

announced that the £15m of money raised by tax on sanitary products

will be spent directly on charities that help women. Cue a few

raised eyebrows from women around the world.

To recap, tampons and sanitary towels are deemed a "non-essential luxury" item by the HMRC and are taxed at five percent accordingly. Up until 2000, they were taxed a ridiculous 17.5 percent.

To put this into context, items that are considered "essentials" include crocodile and kangaroo steak, men's razors and edible cake decorations.

<p class="story-body__introduction">Earlier today, the chancellor

said that European law meant the tax could not be axed, but

insisted the government was committed to getting the EU rules

changed. The move comes after 300,000 people signed a against the tax.

"We already charge the lowest 5% rate allowable under European law and we're committed to getting the EU rules changed," George Osborne said.

Osborne's announcement also prompted outrage on social media, as you would expect, with #TamponTax trending for much of the afternoon. Here are some of the best reactions on Twitter...

Using ridiculous to plug govt's very own funding gaps in support for women misses the point entirely...

— Claire Hazelgrove (@CHazelgrove)

As ever, it's up to women to save women now.

— Dr Camilla M Røstvik (@CRostvik)

Why women to be taxed for a natural & unavoidable reproductive function? Sweetening the tax by funding charities not good enuf.

— Ann Pettifor (@AnnPettifor)

Menstruation to fund our mental health problems. What a time to be a woman!

— ilona burton (@ilonacatherine)

Sanitary products shouldn't be taxed, period. Fund women's services properly you bloody cop out.

— Susuana. (@Susuana_Xx)

Well done ladies. Now you can support good causes every month simply by bleeding!

— ElisabethHobbes (@ElisabethHobbes)

Personally I'd like to choose what my period pays for. I'd happily let a MP build a duck island out of Lil-Lets.

— Vikki Stone (@vikkistone)

Guess what folks, we won't abolish the but will use it as a political tool to hide funding cuts & pretend we're nice

— beatledave (@beatledave)
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In February, we wrote...

A has been signed by nearly 130,000 and yet the issue is still no closer to being solved.

"Sanitary products control and manage menstruation," reads the petition statement. "They are essential because without them, those who menstruate would have no way of pursuing a normal, flexible, public or private life and would be at risk of . We should all feel free to enjoy a life of our choice: period or no period."

The HMRC and David Cameron have both said that EU legislation prevent the products from being tax-free.

"The application of VAT in the EU, including rates and flexibilities afforded to member states such as the UK, is governed by EU law," said a HMRC spokesperson.

"The UK applies a 5 percent reduced rate of VAT to the supply of sanitary products. This is the lowest rate possible under EU VAT law."

This isn't just a women's issue; it's a health issue and one that isn't being dealt with properly. Periods still seem to be one of society's last taboos - women still call it "that time of month"; you can even buy tampon boxes to hide your unseemly natural bodily function; and surveys suggest that many women still feel uncomfortable discussing their period with their family. It was something too 'controversial' to feature in the new 50 Shades of Grey film adaptation - the scene in which Christian Grey removes a tampon from Anastasia Steele before having sex with her was removed. And why do television adverts still show used sanitary towels dipped in blue liquid, not red? Here's a particularly great example from the Nineties.

While the situation is not ideal in the UK, in India it is positively dire. Women on their period are considered filthy, sick and even cursed. In some rural areas of the country, women are not allowed in temples or to even touch certain foods out of fears it will turn bad. Currently, only 12 percent of girls and women in India use sanitary towels, with most using a piece of cloth that is washed and reused.

Girls and women struggle to keep themselves clean, resulting in infection and illness. A new website and comic book called Menstrupedia aims to combat the taboo surrounding periods.

In sub-Saharan Africa, there is a similarly negative stigma and girls often miss school until the terrible week passes. They don't have menstrual products so are forced to make do using mattresses, blankets, newspaper, rugs or feathers.

All women experience periods differently, but the cramps, back pains, nausea, mood swings, teariness, tiredness and dizziness are bad enough without being told we can't talk about it or worse that it's a bit icky (a view shared by some men and also women). And then we have to pay premium for a product that is essential for managing it.

Just imagine what would happen if you weren't to have access to "non-essential luxury" tampons - I refer back to the situation in India and Africa. Rags and bits of used rags all round.

If all this period talk is making you feel uncomfortable, this is exactly why a change is due. Having a period is a sign you can have a baby, that's a nice positive option to have even if you don't want children. It's anything but negative (even if we could live without the symptoms).

Dear David Cameron and the HMRC, stop trying to tell us tampons are anything but essential healthcare items. It's a fact, not a discussion.

The worse things about being on your period (there, we've said it):

  • Periods make you pissed off for at least 24 hours before they kick in. It's like a hangover, a comedown and Monday rolled into one. And this comes around every 28 days.
  • There is no real way to 'manage your flow' bar loads of old towels and about 50 pairs of cheap pyjamas.
  • The pain. It's like having a small parasitical goblin kicking you from the inside of your stomach.
  • Don't invite anyone you are attempting to seduce during your period. Earning red wings don't impress anyone. #Myth.
  • Unfortunately no one gets away with calling work to say; 'I can't come in - my period hurts.' Even though it does. It's like calling into work the day after your birthday with 'food poisoning.'
  • All you want to do is curl up in the foetal position, but you can't you're at work, so you sit on the toilet and rock quietly instead.
  • The painters are in! Oh just fuck off.
  • You can't have sex. Well you can, but it's messy.
  • You look six months pregnant.
  • You have to eat EVERYTHING for at least three days.
  • You get drunk after one glass of wine. And then tell your parents you had sex in their bed when you were 15/ate the dog/hate them.
  • Everything makes you cry. Even the X Factor and you hate yourself for it.
  • That people still say, 'Are you on your period or something?' To which you do nothing to dispel his sentiment and scream at him/her.
  • You can't moan about it without a lot of people thinking you're a wimp.
  • Sometimes you forget whether you are wearing a tampon or not. If you are and you forgot for a significant length of time... Oh dear.
  • Periods get worse after babies.
  • And then periods stop. And that's pretty much the worst thing ever because technically you are now old. Sorry.

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