Scotland has recently moved to become the first nation in the world that will make pads, tampons and other menstrual products free. This is a big step forward, especially given how expensive many of these sanitary products are today.
Last Tuesday, the Scottish Parliament approved a plan that will make menstrual products free in certain public areas, such as community centers and pharmacies. These products have been free in schools and universities since 2018.
Menstruation is certainly not a luxury, and the products needed for all individuals who menstruate should not be priced so highly. People do not choose to menstruate — it is a bodily process that happens, and those who menstruate should not be forced to pay exorbitant prices for something that they cannot control.
With Scotland’s new legislation, it will hopefully set a precedent for more nations around the world. Many countries in the world still classify menstrual products as “luxury items,” making the price very high. In November 2019, it was estimated that a lifetime’s worth of menstrual products for those in London would cost about $2,945. This cost is only for the bare minimum products — not for any medications, or anything else that can help alleviate some of the other symptoms that also occur.
This is clearly way too high of a price that only a certain group of the population has to pay. It is absurd that menstruating individuals have to pay this much money for something that is not a choice.
There are many reasons for the cost persisting as it has. Part of it is because people do not like to talk about menstruation, which is still a taboo subject in many places worldwide. The first step to getting the kind of legislation that is necessary to pass is talking about the subject.
Another reason is a sheer lack of education regarding menstruation in many countries. In 2019 in Germany, when groups were campaigning to eliminate the luxury tax on menstrual products, although there was a lot of positive support from many people, there were also some very negative comments. One such comment read, “Why don’t you take out your womb, so you no longer have this issue?” Comments like this reek of pure ignorance.
Lack of access to menstrual products is a very big problem, and a main contributor is the high prices. If more countries like Scotland made them free, or even took steps to eliminate the high taxes, it would be incredibly beneficial to all menstruating individuals around the world.
Approximately 1.8 billion people around the world menstruate. With the current lack of access to menstrual products, many of them are unable to participate in aspects of their daily lives, such as going to work and school. People don’t choose to menstruate, so they certainly shouldn’t have to make choices about how they live their lives because they don’t have the means to control their menstruation and other symptoms.
As of November 2019, 24 states in the U.S. still had a tax on menstrual products. People should not have to worry about how they will afford basic healthcare products — which includes menstrual products.
People must have the conversation about menstrual products, which many are unwilling to have due to the stigma that has always been there. Once this conversation has occurred, people may be more willing and likely to discuss eliminating the taxes on period products.
Hopefully in the future, the precedent that Scotland has set by making these products free in many public areas will be something that more and more countries can implement. All nations across the world should be taking better care of their entire populations, which includes individuals who menstruate. Menstruation products should be free, and there should be no question about it.
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Anika Veeraraghav is a weekly columnist for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.