Women are resorting to homemade sanitary products due to hefty tampon tax
Tampon tax, the "luxury goods" tax placed on female sanitary products, is having a dramatic effect on the lives of some women, who have had to resort to homemade methods to keep their menstruation in check.
Volunteers from the Darlington Salvation Army food bank have highlighted the effect that this tax is having on some underprivileged women, who have been forced to use socks, scrunched-up newspaper and handkerchiefs in place of tampons and sanitary towels. According to the organisation, the use of these homemade alternatives has led to serious infections, which have resulted in multiple courses of antibiotics and, in some cases, even hospitalisation.
This new information serves as a reminder of why these items are essential for women and should absolutely not be classed as a luxury, and the food bank is trying everything in its power to bring about change in parliament. There is also a petition calling on Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Prime Minister David Cameron to "Stop taxing periods. Period", which has already garnered 318,395 signatures.
According to the site's Facebook page, Major Colin Bradshaw of Darlington Salvation Army has written to every female MP (there are reportedly more than 170 women serving as members of parliament), asking for their support "to make tampons and sanitary pads available on prescription or through a voucher scheme so that women in poverty need never beg for a tampon every again".
The organisation has also launched a powerful new campaign, #BeggingforaTAMPON, in which they state that, "No woman should live with this secret shame. No woman should have to use an old sock as a sanitary product. No woman should have to BEG for a TAMPON".
Of course, they are right, and while there should be no excuse for sanitary products taxed as a luxury item — because no woman chooses to menstruate — there are some safer alternatives to newspaper and socks, which can be made at home.
Registered nurse and midwife Stella Namuganza has been featured in a video which shows women how they can make cheap sanitary pads using basic materials like hard paper, scissors, a thick piece of cotton or cloth, thread and polythene.
According to TreeHugger, "A woman will dispose 16,800 pads or tampons in her lifetime", which has a grave environmental impact, so making homemade pads can be beneficial. But regardless, it should not take away from the fact that all women should have equal rights to affordable sanitary products.