Only women bleed, sang Alice Cooper. And only women pay taxes on the products they use to deal with the fact that this happens. Sanitary products such as tampons are taxed as non-essential, luxury items at 5%. So are maternity pads. Some products remain exempt from this tax – such as edible sugar flowers and alcoholic jellies – but tampons are our little treat, aren’t they? We spoil ourselves silly with such luxury.
5% is not the luxury VAT rate now, is it?
If the average woman menstruates 450 times over a lifetime, it is estimated that will have cost her £18,450 (taking into account sanitary protection, pain relief and new underwear).
£41 a period? When a box of tampons costs £1?
The reason we are talking about tampon tax again is that though the Tories pledged to scrap this 5% VAT, they didn’t.
Because they’re not allowed to. The European Union insists that something which has a positive VAT rate cannot then be made exempt or zero rated, given a 0% VAT rate. That’s just the system, the problem is in Brussels. As Gordon Brown found out.
Abortions, like periods, are not shameful, but a fact of many women’s lives. If we are to have a tampon tax at all, the money generated should at least go to those who regard women as autonomous adults who make our own decisions. To hand it over to those who do not respect our choices and actively want to limit them is deeply shameful.
There are many women who are anti-abortion, indeed Life is rather full of them. If money is to be spent upon women’s issues, as is the point with this tampon fund, that does not mean it should be spent only upon wither those women or those issues you agree with. Because not all women agree with you.