When crocodile meat is classed as an essential and tampons are deemed a luxury, something somewhere has gone very wrong. Sara Soares, one of the co-founders of Bloody Disgrace, argues it’s high time governments the world over stopped making money from menstruation.
The vast majority of these women will bleed for approximately 35 years of their lives. Once a month. Every month. For 35 years.
And every month the likelihood is they will be paying tax on the products they need to manage the blood. This is because according to the lion’s share of governments, menstrual hygiene products are considered non-essential goods. A proverbial ‘luxury’.
Nonsense? Yes. But also true.
That’s why we launched Bloody Disgrace, a global campaign to raise awareness of this issue and collect signatures for a petition to the United Nations which urges governments around the world to collectively define menstrual hygiene products as essential items, thus ending the unfair taxation they’re subjected to.
If you are a woman, you won’t need any convincing that defining feminine hygiene products as a ‘luxury’ is ludicrous. Unless you have a fetish for bleeding down your legs, you will no doubt consider managing your menstruation as an essential part of leading a functional and fulfilled life, free from the worry of leaving a trail for a few days every month.
“We live in a country that considers shaving essential and bleeding a luxury; a country which deems snacking and exotic meats a necessity and periods an extravagance.”
In developing countries, 30% of girls on average stop going to school when they start their periods, often because they don’t have access to the right essentials; items that would allow them to safely and properly manage their menstruation and continue their education.
And even though getting developing countries to change their definition and taxation rules won’t necessarily grant all women immediate access to these items, it will certainly make it more likely.
It will also make it easier to talk about related issues. Like ‘period shame’, menstrual taboos and feminine health.
Don’t we owe it to these women to at least try?
We owe it to women in developed countries too. We might be drinking organic peppermint tea while swiping the latest in smart tablet technology, but we’re no strangers to discriminatory and gender biased discrepancies either.
If you live in the UK and buy tampons, you’ll be paying 5% VAT on them. Some may argue this isn’t very much, and granted it’s an improvement upon the 17.5% we were paying up until the EU restrictions were applied in 2001. But should you really be paying tax on products that deal with a biological imperative? Especially when things like crocodile meat, Jaffa Cakes and men’s razors are VAT free.
It sounds like a bad joke, but it isn’t. We live in a country that considers shaving essential and bleeding a luxury; a country which deems snacking and exotic meats a necessity and periods an extravagance.
This ridiculous idea that having a period is for all intents and purposes a treat should be more than enough to get you signing our bloody petition.
“Unless you have a fetish for bleeding down your legs, you will no doubt consider managing your menstruation as an essential part of leading a functional and fulfilled life.”
But there’s an even sadder side to this tax; the women for whom 5% means the difference between being able to afford proper menstrual care and not. The women who go on the pill for months on end, to avoid having periods, because the NHS gives them the pill for free.
With Bloody Disgrace, and all our sister campaigns, we have an opportunity to stand together and ensure governments will stop cashing in on periods and start fundamentally respecting the women who live in their countries.
And for that, we need help. This is down to each and every one of us.
To those who bleed and pay tax for the trouble, and those who think this constitutes a bloody disgrace.3692 Views