Periods are annoying at the best of times, but the politics of periods can be particularly frustrating to say the least.
First off, here in the UK we have the tampon tax. VAT (Value Added Tax) is applied to luxury items at a standard rate of 20%. In 2000 VAT applying to sanitary products was reduced from the then standard rate of 17.5% to 5% following a campaign from Labour MP Dawn Primarolo. The fact we pay a luxury tax on sanitary products and not on Jaffa Cakes is frankly ridiculous.
There were calls for the tax to be scrapped completely a couple of years ago, but due to some sort of EU complication this wasn’t possible (maybe this will be post-brexit but I doubt it’ll be a top priority). However, then Prime Minister David Cameron said the money received from the tax would go to fund women’s health and support groups (The Guardian). It has come out recently that some of this money has gone to fund an anti-abortion charity (The Independent, The Guardian, The Metro). Many people were angered by this news (although little this government does surprises me nowadays) but there are ways to limit the amount of money you are paying towards this tax.
Reusable sanitary products have been around for a while and in my mind bring up images of hippies. I remember seeing stickers on the back of toilet doors at uni advertising moon cups. I was always a little curious but it wasn’t until I saw similar adverts at a vegan fair a few years ago I thought I’d investigate it further.
I bought a menstrual cup from Femme Cup and it seriously changed my life. No longer worried about always having tampons on me just in case, having to change it far less often and having the piece of mind that I wasn’t adding waste to the oceans or to landfill. Also the money saved over the years is a plus point too!
From their website –
Femmecup is a reusable menstrual cup worn internally just like a tampon except it collects menstrual flow instead of absorbing it.
Femmecup forms a gentle seal with your vaginal walls and any flow is contained in the cup. It is then simply removed, emptied into the toilet, rinsed with water and then reinserted; Femmecup is always with you when you need it most!
Femmecup is non-absorbent so it can be left in place for up to 12 hours with no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome; you may want to empty it more on heavier days and less often on light ones, it really is your personal choice as long as you always keep to the 12 hour rule. In between periods your Femmecup should be sterilised either by boiling in water for 2-4 minutes or rinsing with sterilising fluid such as Milton.
Femmecup holds up to 30ml, that’s 3 times more than tampons or towels can absorb; so Femmecup is great on heavy days and light ones too.
Femme Cup also allow you to buy a cup for a women in the developing world where access to clean, affordable sanitary products is limited. It is a big issue in some countries where many girls miss time off school when they are on their periods due to lack of provisions. I was glad to read the following story in Stylist Magazine –
An initiative that provides free sanitary towels to girls in Bangladesh has significantly decreased dropout in 500 schools. Before the actions of organisation Labonya, girls in the Mithapukur district often missed a week of school every month as they had little knowledge of menstrual hygiene, which in turn lead many leaving full-time education altogether due to falling behind in their studies. “Students now don’t skip classes during menstruation and are doing well in exams,” said Labonya director Ashequr Rahman. The organisation is now calling for the project to be rolled out across the country.
Unfortunately the affordability of sanitary products is now becoming an issue for school girls in Britain (The Metro, BBC News, The Independent). It is also an issue for homeless women, refugees and asylum seekers. Bloody Good Period are an organisation which re-distributes sanitary products to those in need. You can go on their website and buy something from their Amazon wishlist or contribute in another way.
If you donate to food banks, especially the bins in the supermarkets please consider adding a pack of tampons or pads to your shop to donate. Unfortunately periods aren’t a luxury and are still such a taboo subject we need to help those most in need to have access to these basic supplies.
Thanks for reading.