Funding anti-choice organisations with the tampon tax is violence against women

When I read the news that a percentage of the tampon tax has been going to anti-choice organisations, I thought it was a joke. It was April 1st, after all. But, sadly, it’s true. The British government is using money from the tampon tax to fund anti-choice organisations, and dressing it up as supporting women.

Let me be clear: anti-choice is never about supporting women.

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For those of you who don’t know, sanitary products are subject to a 5% VAT in England, which is lower than the standard VAT of 20%, but is still inappropriate, since, y’know, periods aren’t a choice and all that. Despite attempts to get rid of this tax, the Tories declared that £15m a year would go towards women’s charities. Domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue – though women are the vast majority of victims, The implications of this aside, it has now come out that a large portion (around £250,000) of this tax has been given to Life, an anti-abortion organisation.

Life is, quite simply, anti-choice. Funding anti-choice organisations with money that women have no choice but to pay is despicable. This is female erasure. Through the tampon tax, the government is taxing women’s bodies for simply being. Women’s reproductive rights are under threat across the globe- need I remind you of all the instances where women’s rights have been attacked by (male) politicians? I’m sure readers of this blog will be well-versed in such matters, disgusting as they are.

As Suzanne Moore wrote in The Guardian:

Abortions, like periods, are not shameful, but a fact of many women’s lives. If we are to have a tampon tax at all, the money generated should at least go to those who regard women as autonomous adults who make our own decisions. To hand it over to those who do not respect our choices and actively want to limit them is deeply shameful.

Periods are not a choice. Some women don’t have them (myself included), but the majority of women do, and with the girls who are skipping school because they cannot afford sanitary products, we must be doing more to support women and girls. Again, funding anti-choice organisations is not supporting women. Funding organisations that want to take our choice and bodily autonomy away is not feminism, it’s not equality, and it is, quite frankly, not fair or appropriate. The answer is simple: stop shaming and policing our bodies, give us what we need, and stop trying to take our choices away from us. The decision to exercise such control of women’s bodies – and not providing them with what they need – is an act of violence against women. And I for one am sick of seeing it.

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