Sunday, 22 July 2018

It’s Not Just the Tampon Tax: Why Periods Are political

It’s Not Just the Tampon Tax: Why Periods Are Political

The average woman has her period for two,535 days of her life.


That’s nearly seven years’ time of creating sure you've got a pad or tampon, finding a makeshift solution if you don’t, and managing pain and discomfort.


And lately, women — and transgender and nonbinary people that menstruate — are talking about it publicly quite ever before.


There are new products and services on the market, from menstrual cups to period underwear to medicinal cannabis and “period coaches.


” Globally, advocates are pushing for recognition of a woman’s right to manage her period with dignity. And within us, activists are bringing the concept of“menstrual equity” into the general public debate.


Let’s unpack that. “Menstrual equity” refers to equal access to hygiene products, but also to education about reproductive health.


And it’s the main target of the spread of the latest laws and policies to provide menstrual products in prisons, shelters, schools, and even on Capitol Hill.


Advocates also are urging states to exempt menstrual hygiene products from nuisance tax, arguing that they’re a necessity.


A frequent refrain: Why are tampons taxed when Viagra is not?


Increased media coverage and a few high-profile episodes — like Kiran Gandhi bleeding freely as she ran the London Marathon in 2015 and a backlash over Instagram deleting a photo of a period stain — has accelerated the shift.


Last month, a member of Britain’s Parliament announced within the House of Commons that she was menstruating, to form some extent about “period poverty.”


A New York congressman recently got into a spat with House administrators over whether he could expense $37.16 worth of tampons for his staff and visitors.


And India said on Saturday that it might eliminate a controversial 12 percent tax on sanitary pads after a campaign by advocacy groups and celebrities.


Canada also abolished a nuisance tax on such products in 2015 and an Australian push to try to an equivalent made progress this year.


Here’s a summary of the problems that women’s health advocates are talking about.

 

The fight for equal access to menstrual products Laws in several states now mandate access to menstrual products in correctional facilities, shelters, and schools.


Two prison reform bills within the Senate — including the primary Step Act, which is backed by the White House — include provisions on access to menstrual hygiene products, after complaints that the facilities weren't providing an adequate supply.


and therefore the Department of Justice directed federal prisons to supply inmates with free menstrual products last year.


In the House, Representative Grace Meng, Democrat of the latest York, has introduced two related bills.


One aims to form periods cheaper, partially by allowing employees to use flexible spending accounts to shop for pads and tampons, and requiring companies with quite 100 employees to supply them.


The opposite would require manufacturers to disclose ingredients in such products.


“Interest during this issue grows every single day,” Ms. Meng said. “It’s really about accessibility and equity.”


That’s an equivalent argument that Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat of latest York, made after he was ordered to reimburse the Committee on House Administration for menstrual products.


The committee rebutted Mr. Maloney’s account. But that didn’t stop him and Ms. Meng from writing a letter to deal with Speaker Paul Ryan about the matter.


“We applaud you for creating toilet tissue available,” they wrote. “We implore you, however, to travel one step further and make feminine hygiene products available to those who need them.”

 

Pressing to finish ‘the tampon taxIn the last two years, New York, Illinois, Florida, and Connecticut have abolished nuisance tax on menstrual products.


That brings the number of states that tax such products to 36 — and lawmakers in twenty-four of these states have introduced bills to nix the tax.


“That menstrual equity and health would be such a prominent, the bipartisan and really public matter is, in my mind, not just really heartening but enormously telling,” said Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, author of the 2017 book “Periods Gone Public.”


There are similar efforts underway around the world, including in Britain, where the campaign to “ax the tax” got trapped within the Brexit debate.


Laura Coryton, a young British activist, started a petition called “Stop Taxing Periods” in 2014 that amassed over 300,000 signatures.


But lawmakers were unable to repeal the tax due to European Union rules, and it became a point for the pro-Brexit camp.


Lawmakers have pledged to abolish the tax once Brexit is complete. Until then, taxes from menstrual products are being put into a special fund for women’s health.

 

Canada also abolished nuisance tax on menstrual products in 2015, and an Australian push to do an equivalent made progress this year.

 

Bold moves round the world Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, the regional director for the United Nations Population Fund in East and Southern Africa said there has been a groundswell of advocacy around menstrual health management.


In May, the organization hosted the primary regional symposium on the difficulty, with leaders from local governments and therefore the nonprofit sector.


Some countries within the region have made bold moves: Kenya and Uganda abolished sales tax on menstrual hygiene products, while Zimbabwe subsidizes local manufacturers.


The Kenyan government also provides funding for pads in schools.


But Dr. Onabanjo cautioned that access to products is merely one factor. Clean water and sanitation facilities, information, and medical treatment are all important.


Poverty, of course, greatly complicates the trouble to manage periods with discretion and dignity.


And some symptoms, like heavy bleeding or debilitating pain during menstruation can indicate a more serious condition requiring medical attention.

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