Scottish Tories lambasted for lack of reality over rape clause stance

Nathanael Williams

As UK Government’s rape clause comes into force, Scottish Tories are left defending “cruel” policy

THE SCOTTISH TORIES have been condemned by women’s charities and rights organisations for their stance on the infamous rape clause implemented by the UK Tory Government yesterday (Thursday 6 April).

In a statement, the party sparked outrage by claiming that the process which requires “third party” health professionals to enquire if a woman has been raped in order to gain tax child credits was “the most sensitive way possible.”

Scottish Tory leaderRuth Davidson had to deal with criticism over her party’s silence on the policy as the SNP, Scottish Greens, Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrats all came out condemning the policy that will see women forced to submit information about their ordeal if applying for child tax credits for a third or subsequent child who were the consequence of non-consensual sex.

“This statement bears no relation to reality. There is *no* provision in place to hear coerced disclosures from rape survivors.” Emma Ritch

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “We believe women who have been raped and, as a consequence, have a child should be granted an exemption from these benefit restrictions.

“That’s exactly what this measure does in the most sensitive way possible.”

Critics branded this a misleading and insensitive statement given that the UK Government’s limited consultation has informed it that such a rape clause would traumatise and pauperise hundreds of thousands of women. 

Emma Ritch, executive director of Scotland’s feminist charity Engender, said: “This statement bears no relation to reality. There is no provision in place to hear coerced disclosures from rape survivors.”

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 supported by Rape Crisis Scotland (RCS) has shown that the two child limit will mean a loss of up to £2,800 every year per child for families.

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