By Charlotte Cross
A campaign demanding a Europe-wide end to the taxation of sanitary items will be presented to Chancellor George Osborne after reaching almost 200,000 signatures.
Sanitary items, including disposable and reusable products, are currently subject to a reduced five per cent VAT rate - but protesters say this is still too much.
Tens of thousands of people from around the world have now signed an online petition calling on the UK government to recognise how essential the basic items are to maintaining a normal life during menstruation.
Goldsmiths university student Laura Coryton, aged 21, first set up the Change.org petition nine months ago, when a friend opened her eyes to the fact sanitary products were classed as a 'luxury item' in the eyes of the taxman.
Within a week, the petition had 2,000 signatures, and continued to grow slowly until the campaign set up dedicated social media accounts.
Within a matter of days, that figure then shot up to more than 150,000 signatures - and now stands at more than 188,000.
Laura and a group of supporters will now be heading to Downing Street on March 11 to present their petition to George Osborne.
VAT on sanitary items was first introduced in 1973, at the full 17.5 per cent. After much campaiging, this was reduced at the turn of the century to five per cent - but EU regulations prevent the tax from being abolished completely.
Originally from Devon, Laura is now hoping to galvanise support from across the continent to turn that around.
A fan of activist Caroline Criado-Perez's campaign to keep women on banknotes, Laura said she - like Criado-Perez - has experienced trolling from people unimpressed by her efforts, though not to the same extent.
A number of UK universities have already voiced their support for scrapping the so-called 'Tampon Tax', including Goldsmiths itself.
The Students' Union there passed a motion last month to start selling sanitary products at wholesale cost to compensate for the VAT, meaning the shop makes no profit from the items.
Sarah El-alfy, SU education officer, said the perception that sanitary items were a 'luxury' needed to change.
Other universities have made similar moves - East Anglia announced at the end of last year that it would be selling products at cost price, while the University of the Arts went one step further and began handing them out for free.
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