The government recently turned down a proposal to remove the tax.
Image via Charlie Edge's Facebook.
Activists were disappointed last week when the British parliament voted not to enter negotiations with the European Union to reduce a tax on women’s sanitary products (which are classified as “luxury items” under EU tax law). But that doesn’t mean the fight is over. This weekend, two British women decided to show parliament what it looks like when women can’t afford basic sanitary items by “free-bleeding” outside the doors of the British parliament. The two protesters, named Charlie Edge and Ruth Howard, held signs that read, “No Uterus, No Opinion”, “I will bleed on your capitalism”, “Periods are not a luxury,” and “Does your tax make you feel awkward?” as period blood stained their pants.
“We're getting lots of dirty looks and someone just shouted at us to get a job,” Edge wrote on her Facebook post about the demonstrations. “But everyone keeps saying ‘haha omg how quickly would we get free tampons if everyone stopped wearing them?!’ So, I'm giving it a go.”
Their Facebook post has since gone viral, with thousands of likes and shares. Britain’s tampon tax fight has taken on international significance as women in other countries like Australia and Canada lobby to have their own countries’ tax code policies on tampons changed. The debate has largely taken place on the op-ed pages of national newspapers and on online petition sites, but these women were able to bring the protest to parliament in a real and demonstrative way.
“They're not luxury items, anymore than jaffa cakes, edible cake decorations, exotic meats or any other number of things currently not taxed as luxury items. Maternity pads are taxed, but incontinence pads aren’t,” wrote Edge. “We've had enough. Maybe bleeding on their doorstep will get the tories to do something about this?”