Royal Holloway students rally against the tampon tax

Students from Royal Holloway, University of London staged a protest yesterday outside the Windsor Building to oppose the so-called ‘tampon tax’.

Around 50 students attended the protest, organised by the students’ union’s women’s and marginalised genders’ officer Natasha Barrett throughout the day and were photographed holding signs with messages in support of the calls to ban the tax.

The demonstration was held in collaboration with Royal Holloway’s Feminism Society, and lasted for three hours between 1pm and 4pm on Tuesday 1 December.

Currently, women are required to pay a 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on sanitary products as they are classified as a “luxury item”. The government recently announced in the autumn spending review the money collected from the ‘tampon tax’ would go towards women’s charities.

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Following the protest, Barrett told London Student: “Royal Holloway students have spent the last week focussing on the issues surrounding sanitary products.

“Tegan Marlow [president of the Feminism Society] arranged a collection of tampons and pads for local homeless charities that went down immensely well with two enormous boxes being filled.

“The society went on to hold a discussion last week on why the tax is a problem as well as how to break the stigma and squeamishness surrounding menstruation in general. This week with the help of Tegan and the Feminism Society, I organised a protest/campaign stall on Royal Holloway’s campus.”

“We made various signs containing slogans against the tax and asked people to offer their comments and take part in photos with the signs or whiteboards on which they could offer their own response.

“A massive range of students got involved, not limited purely to women which was great to see and we will be sharing these photos and responses online and through media outlets.”

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Tegan Marlow, president of the feminism society, said: “I think it’s really important that we raise awareness about this issue as much as possible. Menstruation is such a taboo subject that it can often get swept under the carpet, but we need to keep fighting for equal treatment.

“Why are men’s razors, Jaffa cakes, and crocodile meats untaxed because they’re seen as necessities, but women remaining clean and dignified is seen as a luxury? The whole tax needs scrapping once and for all.”

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The issue of the ‘tampon tax’ has recently gained a lot of media attention, even resulting in a debate in the House of Commons which took place on 26 October 2015.

During the debate, Stella Creasy, Labour/Co-operative MP for Walthamstow, argued: “There is a common agreement that we wish to resolve this issue and a recognition that in 2015, a tax on women – a femitax, a vagina tax, or whatever we want to call it – is unfair.”

Royal Holloway’s students’ union took over control of the main campus store (Union Shop) from the university, scrapping all VAT charges on sanitary products on sale – and footing the bill for the tax using students’ union funds.

All images via Natasha Barrett

 


Student politics writer. History BA at Royal Holloway

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