Saturday 17 August 2019

Women on their period dress in white to protest tampon tax

*Warning - graphic*

Clare Cullen

Women on their period donned white trousers, "forgoing tampons and pads", to protest outside the Houses of Parliament against the 'tampon tax'.

Tampons and sanitary items are currently classed as a 'luxury item' which means a five per cent levy on the products, which has been dubbed 'the tampon tax'.

Research has suggested that UK women could fork out up to £18,450 in their lifetime on these products.

Last Monday, the UK Government voted 305 to 287 to block a call to remove the levy.

Protesters Charlie Edge and Ruth Howarth decided to stand outside the Houses of Parliament in white trousers, "forgoing tampons and pads", to show that sanitary items are a necessity, not a luxury.

"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".

"Maybe bleeding on their doorstep will get the tories to do something about this?"

The controversial protest has already received a lot of criticism, in particular on social media.

Taking to Facebook, Charlie Edge wrote that the protesters got "lots of dirty looks" but also a lot of support. "Everyone keeps saying 'omg how quickly would we get free tampons if everyone stopped wearing them?!'".

The original post was shared over 9,000 times and got over 11,000 likes.

Posting an update, Edge explained the motivations behind the protest, stating that it was "not to upset passers-by".

"People are talking about it. This isn’t just ‘three girls outside parliament with blood stains’. This is three more people who are angry about something, encouraging the millions of other people who are also angry about the same thing, to talk about it".

To the people who complained that the method of protest was "gross", Edge wrote that "that was the point".

"Periods are gross".

"They can cause you so much pain that you physically can’t move from the foetal position on the floor. They can make your head hurt, your stomach hurt, make you throw up, mess up your bowels… They make you feel consistently uncomfortable for a week. And if you aren’t lucky enough to be 100% regular, they can surprise you at the worst of times and you end up looking like me, but not as part of a protest, but in the middle of a restaurant or class or supermarket".

"They are gross. And tampons and pads are a necessity".

"Most people really don’t like seeing period blood... so (tampons) should not be classed as a luxury".

"The tampon tax has been decided on almost entirely by cis men".

"Cis men don’t have uteruses. They don’t have periods. They should not get to dominate laws that do not affect them".

"Don’t tell me how to feel about something that you can’t experience.... Quite frankly, it’s none of your business what anyone else decides to put up their vagina".

To criticism that the the protest was unhygenic, Edge said that the ladies brought changes of clothes and wet wipes to clean themselves up before heading home.

"If  we all decided to freebleed forever, then yes. That probably would be pretty unhygienic.

But I promise you that IF we all decided to freebleed forever, we wouldn’t have to pay for sanitary items".

"It’s an issue that is based in sexism, classism, and a corrupt capitalist system". 

The protest also raised money which was donated to homeless shelters, women's shelters and the refugee crisis.

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