Italy’s parliament has rejected another bid by opposition parties to cut VAT on tampons.

Female sanitary products are taxed at 22% in Italy, but truffles attract a lower 5% rate because they are considered essential items.

The deputy chamber rejected the proposal by 353 votes to 189 after finance officials calculated it would cost €212 million to reduce the rate to 10% and more than €300 million to cut it to 5%.

It is the second time such a plan has been blocked by Italy’s parliament, according to La Repubblica, and follows similar moves elsewhere including in Spain’s Canary Islands.

Enza Bruno Bossio, an MP for the Democratic Party, which proposed the change, said: “Today the 5 Stars [government] have lost yet another opportunity to prove themselves authentic defenders of equal opportunities.”

Another Democratic Party MP, Carla Cantone, told colleagues in the parliament that sanitary towels were not exclusively for women. “This does not only concern your wives and children. You will realise when you’ll get to 60 years old, I’m speaking to my male colleagues, you’ll realise you’ll need sanitary towels for incontinence or prostate problems, think ahead!”

Giuseppe Civati, a left-wing campaigner, reflected that the decision showed Italy as a “chauvinistic and traditionalist” country that “can’t pronounce the word menstruation without a smile … because women have to stay in the kitchen. And pay VAT.”

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