The Tampon Tax

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.

Merida from the movie 'Brave' expressing exasperation and hitting her head against the table.

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.

Look at all those interest groups…

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!

I think we all know who I feel like in this scenario, and it's not Phelps.
I think we all know who I feel like in this scenario, and it’s not Phelps.

Prescription Prohibition

As most of you are probably aware, a big part of my life is dealing with chronic illness and disability. If you’re curious about what that means on a day to day level, I’d love for you to google ‘the spoon theory’ or chat to me any time.

There are lots of frustrating things about being a spoonie. After five years of constant pain and fatigue, and lots of fun names for significantly less fun symptoms, my doctors and I are still wondering about what exactly I actually have. Sometimes I wonder if I spend more time hanging out with doctors than I do with my friends. I wonder if I will ever be able to fulfill society’s idea of what a ‘productive’ and ‘independent’ ‘adult’ should be.

Amongst all this, there is one thing I don’t have to wonder about: the thing I find most frustrating about being sick. It’s the idea that there are treatments that could change my life, and allow me to participate in the usual diversions of a university student, that I can’t access. Not because I’m allergic to them. Not because their side effects are too risky. Not even because they’re too expensive to be made widely available.

These treatments are illegal.

Compare that to the 100% legal medications I am currently on. Their side effects include: unusual weight gain or loss, unusual bleeding or bruising, mood changes, hair loss, vision problems, difficulty hearing, seizures, depression, vomiting, difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, and plenty more. They increase my chances of bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections, heart attack, stroke, peptic ulcer disease, osteoporosis, vertebral compression fractures, diabetes, and the list goes on. But don’t worry. These are safe medications.

And this answer didn't even win...
And this answer didn’t even win…

Thousands of Australians are cut off from one of the most promising new medical treatments in the world. People with chronic, debilitating, and sometimes terminal illnesses don’t have the right to access medical cannabis, simply because of a misguided notion that it is somehow equivalent to recreationally smoking pot. Worse, for the most part, people with chronic, debilitating pain, are frequently left out of the conversation entirely.

People often commiserate that it’s not fair that I’m sick. Complete strangers stop me on the street and tell me I’m too young for this, that life isn’t fair. Well this prohibition and restriction isn’t fair. And this is something that we can change.

Please sign this petition asking Tony Abbott to decriminalise the use of medical cannabis for people with chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, and other related conditions.

To read about the incredible impact that cannabis oil can have on the life of someone with chronic illness causing constant pain, check out this article.

To read the report that the petition mentions, go here.