Tampon tax protest: Feminist campaigners turn Zurich's fountains blood red

Aktivistin.ch say they put food dye into the fountains to protest against taboos around periods

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The Independent Online

Protesters in Zurich have turned 13 fountains blood red in protest at the so-called tampon tax and taboos around menstruation.

Women campaigning for the abolition of the levy on sanitary products poured red food dye into fountains around the city, including several outside major railway stations, between 6:30am and 7:30am.

Aktivistin.ch, the feminist group behind the stunt dubbed #happytobleed, said it was designed to prompt discussion on attitudes towards the female body.

In Switzerland, women have to pay an eight per cent tax on tampons and sanitary towels as they are deemed a luxury product – as opposed to the reduced 2.5 per cent tax imposed on most everyday items such as groceries. 

The group’s spokeswoman, Carmen Schoder, told The Independent:  “It is important to us to stress that the goal of todays action was not only to point out the differently taxed products in the stores but on a much more general level to make menstruation as a natural part of the female biology more visible."

She said they wanted to "fight for the right of self-determined sexuality for all genders." 

In a statement on the group's website they said people still don’t openly talk about it and a woman would never “ask for a tampon in an open-plan office”.

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The dye was poured in 13 fountains around the city in protest at the tax on sanitary products(Aktivistin.CH/Facebook)

But the Zurich authorities condemned the stunt saying the water was there for the public and not to make political statements. 

City spokesman Hans Gonella told 20 Minuten it looked like it would be easy to restore the colour of the fountains but if the pumps had been damaged they will press charges against the group.

The tampon tax has caused controversy across Europe and in March this year, David Cameron announced that the European Commission had agreed to put tampons on the list of “zero-rated” items.

Campaigners had called for the “sexist” tax to be abolished noting that men’s razors were not subjected to VAT.

In 2015, then Chancellor George Osborne attempted to soften the blow of the tax by announcing all the proceedings from the tax would go exclusively towards funding women’s charities, rape crisis centres and domestic violence refugees. 

But critics then accused Mr Osborne of making it a “women’s duty” to fund key services for women rather than the responsibility of society at large.

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