Sexism, elitism and blissful ignorance are three founding principles that underlie our tax system. However, the EU could help to stop this. While we are currently taxed for the 'luxury' of buying sanitary products each and every month, we are spared VAT when purchasing other, 'more essential' items. Such products include helicopters, maintaining our private jets or purchasing exotic meats.
Make sense? We don't think so, and there's something we can do about it. Last year, I launched a change.org petition to abolish the tax. So far, it has gained over 242,000 signatures and worldwide support.
Periods are no luxury. You can 'opt-in' to extravagance. You cannot choose to menstruate. Despite this, a whole heap of disadvantages have been created for those who do. Not using sanitary products can lead to health risks, jeopardise maintaining a normal, professional or personal life, and result in public ridicule.
Equally, by using sanitary products, our Government capitalises on misogynist discourse and period shame that has caused us to fear our own menstrual cycles. It's a double-edged sword that cuts women on both sides.
David Cameron has already acknowledged the misogyny inherent in sanitary tax, and the damage it causes. Similarly, the Labour party has publicly opposed the tax, and the Scottish National Party has branded it "a ridiculous, longstanding failure in our tax system". So, why hasn't it been scrapped by now? Cameron highlighted a key issue live on BBC question time: European laws.
Currently, the EU enforces taxing consistency across the Union. This means that no country can eradicate items from tax entirely, without all 28 members agreeing unanimously (not even tampons!). However, last week there was a breakthrough. The European Commission proposed a radical change to EU law. It argued that member states should be able to govern their own tax exemptions, without having to consult the Union. It would make David Cameron exclusively responsible for our tax implications and unable to pass liability over to the Union.
If this proposal is accepted, sanitary tax will end in the UK. Period! Our 242,552 signature strong petition has already convinced Cameron to end sanitary tax. His only obstacle was the EU-made. Without it, he has no choice but to respond to the pressure we have created and begin to end the sexism that rules our tax system.
This news is important. Without sanitary tax, the fight against female political alienation will be strengthened and period shame will begin to be tackled head-on. Let's hope Cameron hears this message, and knows that his time will soon come to fulfil his promise and benefit the millions by ending sanitary tax and the misogyny it represents. PERIOD!