The UK Government’s rape clause comes into force despite rejection from women’s charities
CAMPAIGNERS AND MPs have stood in defiance to the official rolling out of the UK government’s family cap saying it will cause “untold chaos and poverty” that will be unleashed on women, children, families and rape survivors.
Alison Thewliss, MP for Glasgow Central, met with Dr Marsha Scott of Scottish Women’s Aid to signal that the fight will go on to resist the “cruel and damaging” policy of forcing women to disclose whether a third or subsequent child is the “product of non-consensual sex or assault.”
The policy is known by its critics as the “rape clause” has been widely criticised by women’s campaigners, legal academics and MPs from across the UK yet the UK Government has persisted in the policy.
Earlier this week, charities such as SWA, Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) and Engender pledged not to become “third parties” in enforcing the policy across Scotland.
“As of midnight last night, a two-child limit on child tax credits and universal credit – which is tantamount to social engineering – came into force.” Alison Thewliss MP
Alison Thewliss MP – who first uncovered the policy – said: “Today the UK government stooped to a new low, even by their austerity-obsessed standards. Minister are now unleashing untold chaos and poverty for some of the most vulnerable women and families in this country – indeed, the very ‘just about managing’ families Theresa May spoke about upon taking office as Prime Minister.
“As of midnight last night, a two-child limit on child tax credits and universal credit – which is tantamount to social engineering – came into force. It largely penalises families who are already in work, so this has very little to do with reducing the welfare bill but is, instead, an ideological attack on the lowest earning families in our society.
“Independent analysis shows that the two child limit alone will mean a loss of up to £2,800 every year per child for hardworking families. If you had a third child at 11.59pm last night, over the next 18 years you could be £50,000 better off than a family whose third child was born a minute later.”
The policy originates from the decision in July 2015, by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who announced in his summer budget a plan to slash child tax credit payments to just two children per family and implement a ‘non-consensual sex exemption’, dubbed the rape clause.
“Independent analysis shows that the two child limit alone will mean a loss of up to £2,800 every year per child for hardworking families.” Alison Thewliss MP
The new policy, which came into force at midnight last night, requires women who are tax credit claimants, to prove to social workers and health professionals that their third or subsequent child was conceived as a result of rape.
The UK Government has responded to the consultation and complaint of charities by stating that the third party system where women who have had experiences of rape and sexual assault resulting in a pregnancy could disclose to charities instead of DWP officials. However, organisations opposing the policy say such as stance does not address the original issue of forcing women to choose between reliving trauma and being financially penalised.
Thewliss added: “Analysis also shows that well over 200,000 children will now move into relative poverty as a result of this deeply flawed two child limit. We should be reducing child poverty, not adding hundreds of thousands more to this miserable statistic.
“Analysis also shows that well over 200,000 children will now move into relative poverty as a result of this deeply flawed two child limit.” Alison Thewliss MP
“Ministers have ducked and dived at every turn to try and avoid talking about this policy, presumably because they know it’s so unpalatable. The UK government railroaded this through Parliament using a statutory instrument which meant MPs couldn’t vote upon or debate it.
“What’s most horrifying is the rape clause, which is a vile policy in total chaos. Ministers are willing to give an exemption to those women whose third child was conceived as a result of rape, but they want them to prove this in a traumatic assessment from healthcare professionals and social workers. This is utterly appalling and will only seek to make rape survivors relive the trauma and brutality of the sexual violence they experienced at the hands of their perpetrator. It must be one of the most inhumane and barbaric policies ever to emanate from Whitehall.”
Picture courtesy of Alison Thewliss
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