Written by Lotte De Vos
All governments tax goods that are considered “luxury” because they are not necessary in everyday life, yet a handful of time tampons and pads are included in the tax. In Germany, tampons and pads are taxed higher than truffles, and in Iowa candy with wheat flour cannot be taxed. Now we can ask ourselves the question if these goods really are more important than a woman having to pay extra just to avoid bleeding in public?
In Canada, on the 1st of july, 2015, the tampon tax came to an abrupt end as a result of France reducing theirs from 20% to 5.5%. Hungary has a 27% tax which is the highest in the world, following with Denmark, Sweden and Norway with 25% and Italy with 22%. Countries such as Canada with a 0% tax, Malaysia with 6% and the UK with 5% put a much lower tax on the products which make it a lot more accessible for anyone. The amount of taxes makes it harder for women with a limited amount of money afford these necessities. Sometimes they have to improvise to not free bleed in public.
According to a Unesco report, girls in Sub-Saharan Africa drop out of school once they get their period or miss school for about a week every time they get it. This is about 20% of the whole school year wasted because they cannot afford to buy the necessities. Girls in these countries do not have money to prevent this from happening and getting a good education. This situation is completely preventable, especially if big companies such as Tampax, Kotex, Always, etc… sell their products at a cheaper prices, and governments not tax them, these fundamental goods are affordable for all.
Not everyone might not understand that these products are an investment that us, girls, have to pay every month. Imagine if society changed and that us girls are able to buy pads, tampons, a diva cup or whatever product you may use that was not taxed. Image how much us girls would save, and how many more girls, living in poor conditions that cannot afford it now, but if we could if the taxes were gone.
One might say that a women doesn’t need tampons or pads, they could stay home instead, so yes, it is a “luxury” good. What men would not know is that about 50% of society is female, and about 17% of the world is on their period. The 17% is expected to prevent themselves from staying home during their period, buy tampons, pads and painkillers to always be ready to work.
Since I am a girl, I have to buy these goods once a month as well and when you go to the grocery store, there is a clear difference between foods and “Luxury goods”. Here in Malaysia the difference is not that big, but every time I go back to Belgium, a box of tampons would be around $5 for 24 tampons. According to the Huffingtonpost, 1 tampon every 6 hours = 4 tampons per day x 5 days of a period = 20 tampons per cycle x 456 periods = 9,120 tampons. At 36 tampons per box, that’s 253.3 boxes x $7 = $1,773.33 The equation is based on Americans with their taxes and their price asked for the product. This shows how much tampons by it itself are already an expense.
A girl spends roughly $1800 in her whole life to make sure that men do not have to see what they are going through every month.
Pads and Tampons are not “Luxury” goods, they are a necessity.
Kane, Jessica. “Here’s How Much A Woman’s Period Will Cost Her Over A Lifetime.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 18 May 2015, www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/18/period-cost-lifetime_n_7258780.html.
“Tampon Tax Is Real. Women Everywhere Pay Their Governments Extra to Have Periods.”Public Radio International, www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-15/tampon-tax-real-women-everywhere-pay-their-governments-extra-have-periods.
Stone, Jon. “French Parliament Votes to Cut ‘Tampon Tax’ VAT on Women’s Sanitary Products.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 15 Dec. 2015, www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/french-parliament-votes-to-cut-tampon-tax-vat-on-womens-sanitary-products-a6773676.html.
Weiss-Wolf, Jennifer. “Why Are We Paying Sales Tax on Tampons?” The Nation, 26 Jan. 2016, www.thenation.com/article/why-are-we-paying-sales-tax-on-tampons/.