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Deleting Compassion in Society: The Rape Clause

“Compassion is the basis of morality” Arthur Schopenhauer

An unusual occurrence took place last week when political parties across Scotland, with the exception of the Conservatives, came together to support a protest outside The Scottish Parliament building. The protest was about ‘The Rape Clause’.

So what is this ‘rape clause’ which has caused an outbreak of unification amongst political opponents during an election and condemnation of the Tories?

rape clause form

The Rape Clause – the form women have to fill in to make a benefit claim stating that their baby is the result of a rape.

The rape clause is one part of a wider piece of UK legislation that came into force at the beginning of April. The Two child Benefit Cap means that Child tax credits are now capped at two children – meaning anyone with two children or more will no longer receive child tax credits at the birth of their next child or subsequent children, unless an exception applies. This policy also affects those making a new claim to Universal Credit.

The exception to the 2 child cap can be applied if the woman can claim that the conception of the additional child (the +2) was due to being raped or because she was in a coercive relationship where she had no choice in becoming pregnant. This has now become infamous as ‘the rape clause’

New families will also lose £545 a year from the removal of the ‘family element’ – an additional payment that applies to the birth of a first child. By 2020-21 it is estimated around 50,000 Scottish households will be affected by the changes to child tax credits.

The Orkney News has covered several aspects of the imposition of the rape clause and today you can read how one woman, a victim of rape, feels about it. It was extremely brave of this woman to share her feelings and to protect her we have not published her name. These are her words:

“I was raped and have had intensive amounts of counselling – and worked  hard myself – to get over it – but I’d be damned if I would go through the details of it to anyone outside my closest family and friends – and certainly not in a cold hearted office to a stranger who is trying to take money away from you.

I always thought the tories were bad – but – this makes everything that they have ever done before look like a picnic in the park. I am angry and overwhelmingly sad for the women that they are going to put into a horrid situation with no care and then that Mayday says she’s a Christian. No, that is just a feeble lie – and, whilst I rarely think that there’s a Hell, I would find it hard to spill any tears over her being there – as that is what she is condemning these poor women to have to be in.

I’m happy for my comments to go anywhere that it may help or ensure that no-one has to ever go through having to relive their experience in front of a cold situation to get child benefit – having also worked in a housing benefits office – I kinda know what some of them are like as well – and I know I sure wouldn’t.

If it helps just one person.  I can’t tell you how the depth of my heart hurts when I hear that woman Ruth saying that she thinks it’s not wrong – that any woman can say that is disgusting. “

A society without compassion and decency where we stigmatise the most vulnerable when we should be supporting them is a corrupt rotten society. We are responsible if we allow it to continue to wipe away every protection our forebears fought so hard for. The Rape Clause is the vilest attack on our welfare system yet. It is up to us to refuse to accept the normalisation of cutting support to those most in need.

“Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.” Nelson Mandela

Reporter: Fiona Grahame


Petition: Scrap the Rape Clause and the ‘family cap’ on social security payments

Related Stories:

Women & Children Paying the Price for the Austerity Agenda

John Finnie: Scrap the 2 Child Benefits Cap

Maree Todd MSP: The Callous Two-Child Cap Policy

Callous Two Child Cap UK Policy Comes into Force Today

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