Students put tampons on SA agenda

University students are pushing ahead with their demand to have sanitary pads given out for free on campus and also to have products tax exempted.

Students at Wits University and the University of Cape Town (UCT) are driving the campaign.

The students representative council (SRC) at UCT is championing an initiative to have tampons and sanitary pads exempted from tax to ensure lower prices and easier access to them.

The initiative is being led by the council's health, safety and environment sub-committee, which is mobilising signatories for a petition to be delivered to parliament. By yesterday, the petition had 264 signatories.

Secretary-general of the SRC Noxolo Ntaka said thousands of students at the university depend on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme but are allocated little money for toiletries.

Ntaka said the SRC was trying to highlight the issue as a serious problem that needed government intervention.

At Wits, Amnesty International Wits is leading the campaign #WorthBleedingFor, which is calling for taxes on sanitary pads and tampons to be dropped. The society recently presented a petition to vice-chancellor professor Adam Habib calling for the exemption.

Chairman of the society Raeef Noorbhai said feedback was expected from the university following their demand.

"It's really a crisis in the country because on average schoolgirls miss 60 days of school a year because they cannot go to school when they are on their period because they can't afford these products.

"The campaign is ongoing and we want to have it on a national level and get other universities involved so that universities drive forward this national struggle," Noorbhai said.

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