Ladies out there know that we face quite a few economic battles for equality, but what people don’t realize is that most vagina-owners across the world are literally being taxed for it.
Most countries have a consumption tax, a tax on the purchase price. Most countries also exclude certain ‘essentials’ from this tax, as a way to ensure that people can access necessities at the lowest possible cost.
In Australia we have a 10% Goods and Services Tax on sanitary products (same as the standard tax on pretty much all goods), while items considered ‘essential’ are exempt. That list of exemptions doesn’t just include fresh food, education and healthcare. It also includes exemptions for condoms, lube, sunscreen and nicotine patches. The logic for these additional exemptions? They prevent illness and disease, and therefore shouldn’t be taxed because their use should be promoted. They are essential products, not luxury items.
So why aren’t menstrual products included?
When the application of the tax to sanitary products was protested during the introduction of the GST in 2000, (then) Prime Minister John Howard said that any weakening on the issue of the GST on menstrual products would just open the door to all interest groups seeking an exemption.
His example was that a tax on menstrual products was no less justifiable than one on new clothes. Other government ministers compared sanitary products to shaving cream.
It feels more like politicians were just confident that women would pick paying extra on (already expensive) items such as pads, tampons, and moon cups. Avoiding the inconvenience, the embarrassment of visible bleeding, and the risk of infections is a pretty big incentive after all.
Meanwhile in the UK, women have been paying VAT on their sanitary products since 1973, then at a rate of 17.5%, which later dropped to 5% when they were moved to the ‘reduced rated’ category. That’s right, while items such as cakes, magazines and cocoa are essential enough to be zero rated, sanitary products and maternity pads don’t make the cut.
The United States doesn’t have a national sales tax, but the same problem shines through there, with Food Stamps not covering sanitary products, and women in prison not having access to them.
And none of this even begins to cover the struggles faced by women in less economically developed countries.
Check out google for plenty of petitions to change taxation of sanitary products in your county!