Laura Coryton, is a 21-year-old student from Devon, now studying at Goldsmiths University. She’s launched a campaign on Change.org to “Stop period tax. Period” and has already garnered more than 200,000 signatures in a matter of months. The goal of her petition is to persuade George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to reduce the UK’s “outdated, damaging” sanitary tax from five to zero per cent. We caught up with the campaigner, who will be speaking on the panel at our talk.Period event this coming Thursday and asked her a few questions about why breaking menstrual hygiene taboos is important to her.
What were the turn of events that lead you to found the Stop Taxing Our Periods.Period movement?
I had absolutely no idea that it would turn into any kind of a successful petition, let alone a movement. I was totally unprepared for how amazing our supporters would be. However, my twin sister’s house mate, Verity, inspired me to start the petition. She sent me an article that highlighted the fact that the tax existed in outrage, and I decided that maybe we should do something about it.
What sparked this interest and why did you feel compelled to do this?
At first, I assumed that sanitary tax must be justifiable in some way. Perhaps in context it wouldn’t seem so outrageous. I did some research in the hopes that my suspicions would be confirmed. They were worsened. I discovered that sanitary tax was implemented on overtly sexist grounds, and that alternative items such as edible sugar jellies and private helicopter maintained could be enjoyed tax free. I was shocked. This feeling has been what has kept me focused on fixing a tax system that has been built so overtly to benefit a male bourgeoisie that simply has no relevance in the twenty-first century.
What has been your biggest achievement to date and what are you most proud of?
Without a doubt I am most proud of the protests and demonstrations that our supporters have made such a success. Meeting everybody and demonstrating alongside them has been the most inspiring experience that I have been so lucky to be apart of.
What other issues do you feel particularly passionate about and important to address or change?
I am a massive supporter of the very successful No More Page 3 campaign, as well as the Free the Nipple campaign. I am also hugely admirable of anti-homophobia and -transphobia campaigners and have always firmly believed that your gender and sexuality should never hinder your chances in life.
In what ways do you feel the public could get involved or behind this to improve the situation?
People need to talk! Talk about menstruation, and all the wonders of having your period. There is no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed about something so natural. Together, if we shout loud enough, we can demand a positive change and challenge the period taboo that has silenced and shamed those who menstruate forever. We will be able to demand that our tax system is rebuilt for us, the people, and not for an elite minority, stuck in 1973 when the tax was introduced.
Why is getting involved in Talk Period important to you
Talk Period is an amazing organisation aimed at challenging the period taboo, which is integral to this campaign. It is am honour to be associated with them. Together, organisations like yours can make period talk something that isn’t unfairly ridiculed, so that people have a greater change of feeling happy and comfortable in their own bodies.
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