Canadian women are fighting to remove the Government Sales Tax on menstruation products because according to the powers at be, tampons are more of a luxury than chocolate.
Back in 1991, the Canadian government decided to remove the tax on things considered basic groceries and medical needs. Under this law, items like chocolate, pizza pockets, contacts, and incontinence items fall under this category, and are therefore not taxed. Tampons, pads, and other menstruation products are considered luxury items.
According to a BBC article, the VAT (value-added tax) on tampons and sanitary towels used to be 17.5% before it was dropped to 5%. That is an obscene amount of money to be spending on items that will be used throughout the majority of women’s lives.
The affordable sanitary napkins and tampons available are usually not even the best products for women, and yet we are expected to pay around $5.00 + tax for a decent pack of twenty-four that will last basically one cycle.
With women and trans communities being the most financially burdened, it makes for difficult choices about buying the best products for our bodies. Internationally, one study explained that female workers in Bangladesh miss six days of work on average during their periods because of lack of available menstruation products.
Canadian Menstruators are asking people to download, print, sign, and send their petition to legislators in order to change the tax laws.
It is ridiculous that a society so terrified of discussing women’s menstruation refuses to allow women to have cheaper access to these items (which would effectively end the need for this specific dialogue). The alternative would be for women to not wear anything at all, and we’re sure no one is excited about that possibility.
Image c/o Gapyear
Princess Weekes is a part-time bookseller and a full-time writer with a Master’s in English from Brooklyn College. A former intern at BUST magazine, she has since written articles for The Mary Sue, BUST and maintains her own video channel under the name Melina Pendulum, discussing the intersection of pop culture, feminism and race. She is currently working on a fantasy novel about black witches during the Jim Crow era, while attempting to purchase every liquid lipstick the world has to offer.