Why the tampon tax is about more than just periods.

So we found out this week that MPs in parliament voted against the motion for the removal of the 'tampon tax' 305 to 287.  And while it is beyond nonsensical that this is happen, much of the current debate is ignoring the real issues at hand here.

The tampon tax debate is more than just establishing a fair policy for women's sanitation, it's about everything that is wrong with politics - that rich white men are left to make decisions on matters that concern not them, but women who can't afford to have a period. How can we expect politicians to make a considered decision on the tampon tax when the majority of them don't have a uterus?

Article 25 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlines the right to "to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being" and I think it is quite clear that sanitation and female hygiene is an integral part of this basic right. How can we claim to be a developed country when we have policy in place that prevents certain demographics from having access to sanitary products because of their financial situation - namely the working class, homeless and students.

Moreover, despite the fact that Laura Coryton started this petition over a year ago it seems rather unrealistic that MPs have only just found time to discuss this issue but instead is more indicative of the ridiculous taboo of talking about women's bodies.

And it's not about the fact that Jaffa cakes and crocodile meat are taxed at 0%, or that the tax is "only 5%". It's about the fact that we should not class sanitary products as non-essential in policy making, and that we deem talking about periods and women's bodies a taboo, and that the government is commoditising a natural biological process - because all of these things allow the government to capitalise on and continue sexist discourse, whilst ignoring the need to represent and listen to women when making decisions on issues where they are the primary focus.

Articles such as this one by Julia Hartley-Brewer claim the battle is trivial and a detriment to modern feminism when there are bigger fish to fry, but we must consider the wider picture that these protests are fighting. Yes there are larger problems within the system of patriarchal societies and global inequality but surely any symbolic action towards equality is a positive one.

The vote against removing the non-essential item tax on sanitary products should not be a sign that this debate is a case closed to our politicians, but a warning to the government that politics needs to be seriously more representative of the different races and genders that belong in the UK to be able to conduct fairer policy making. Period.

'A Five per cent tax might seem low, but this is an issue of fairness, and not only for those menstruating in the UK'
Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/dont-think-the-tampon-tax-can-be-scrapped-youre-wrong-all-we-need-to-do-is-follow-these-5-steps-10090937.html

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