Tampons are taxed at nearly three times the rate as books are in Germany, which is what makes The Tampon Book such an important political statement.
The government vowed to end period poverty while announcing this year’s budget after acknowledging that young girls are missing school because they cannot afford tampons and sanitary towels. Currently, we pay a 5% tax on sanitary products in the UK, which was reduced from 17.5% in 2001 thanks to MP Dawn Primarolo.
In Germany, tampons are considered a “luxury good” and taxed at 19%. In comparison, the tax on books is 7%. This is why the founders of start-up The Female Company have published a book which includes 15 organic tampons in its cover.
The Tampon Book was released in spring, with the first print-run selling out in just a day. Priced at €3.11 (£2.78), the second run then sold out in under a week. In total, around 10,000 copies have been sold to date, which includes an English version that is still available to buy.
Inside the book, apart from tampons, readers will find stories about menstruation from biblical times to the current era, as well as illustrations from Alica Läuger and Ana Curbelo.
Ann-Sophie Claus, co-founder of Female Company said the book was published to raise awareness of the unfair tax, after collecting over 175,000 signatures on a petition calling for the government to review the levy.
“We realised that nothing will really change,” said Claus, who has sent a hundred copies to members of the Bundestag . “The German finance minister, Olaf Scholz, replied saying that he does not want to reduce the tax because he cannot ensure that companies will pass on the tax reduction to consumers anyway.
“The history of menstruation has been full of rumours and suppression,” continued Claus. “This is why the period became a taboo in the first place. But it seems like during the last years we, as women, are standing up against such myths… The tampon tax was decided in 1963: 499 men and only 36 women voted. It’s time that we question such decisions from a new perspective of modern, independent women.”