Efforts to end Australia’s tampon tax have garnered thousands of supporters and international attention.
A petition to end the Australian tax on tampons has garnered over 95,000 signatures—and the attention of the Australian Treasurer, Joe Hockey. University student Subeta Vimalarajah started the petition to get ahead of Hockey’s national tax review, in which the country’s financial ministers will gather to assess the fairness of the current tax code. In Australia, people who buy tampons are charged with a 10 percent “Goods and Services Tax,” a tax from which other health products, like condoms and sunscreen, are exempt. In her petition, Vimalarajah argues that the government is essentially taxing a bodily function, one that only female-bodied people experience, making it fundamentally sexist.
“I've definitely had the experience of going to the supermarket to buy a box of tampons and being frustrated that I need to pay for them, but more significantly that the government is making a profit on my period,” she wrote for BBC News.
According to Vimalarajah, the tax earns the Australian government $25 million a year. For more than a decade, activists have lobbied against this tax, which was implemented in 2000 by a conservative administration. But Vimalarajah’s campaign has become so popular it is impossible to ignore. Hockey came face-to-face with the tenacious activist on live TV and he was left practically speechless when confronted with her question: “Mr. Hockey, do you think that sanitary products are an essential health good for half the population?"
Vimalarajah is pictured on the far right.