Rape clause needs to be scrapped

Rutherglen Reformer - - News from the Pews -

Con­tained within the small print of the Tory gov­ern­ment’s 2015 bud­get was a pro­posal to limit tax cred­its to two chil­dren and, in or­der for a third child to qual­ify for tax cred­its, women would have to pro­vide ev­i­dence of ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances, such as rape.

This re­stric­tion, ef­fec­tively a two-child pol­icy, was a hor­ri­fy­ing prospect – but made much worse by a pro­posal that would force sur­vivors of rape to re­live a grue­some and trau­matic or­deal, sim­ply to re­ceive so­cial se­cu­rity pay­ments.

It is ab­so­lutely ab­hor­rent the Tories think that this pol­icy – which came into ef­fect ear­lier this month – is morally ac­cept­able.

And de­spite it also be­ing very dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment, the UK Gov­ern­ment has pressed ahead re­gard­less - is­su­ing forms that need to be com­pleted and ef­fec­tively wrap­ping rape in red tape.

Re­quir­ing a woman to prove that her child was con­ceived as a re­sult of rape is ut­terly ap­palling and must be one of the most vile poli­cies ever to come from West­min­ster, yet it has been to­tally rail­roaded through par­lia­ment with­out de­bate or the ap­proval of MPs.

The SNP has been res­o­lute from the out­set that these poli­cies are im­moral, un­work­able, and must be scrapped.

My party col­league Al­i­son Thewliss, MP for Glas­gow Cen­tral, has been tire­less in her cam­paign­ing on this is­sue, and has en­sured that it has not only been kept in the spot­light for al­most two years now, but has gath­ered sig­nif­i­cant op­po­si­tion.

Tory min­is­ters even con­ceded in the con­sul­ta­tion re­sponse doc­u­ment that “most re­spon­dents felt it was un­ac­cept­able for the UK Gov­ern­ment to ask women to re-live the or­deal of a rape just in or­der to make a claim for ben­e­fit”.

The rape clause and two child pol­icy is now op­posed by faith lead­ers, trade unions, women’s rights cam­paign­ers and MPs from ev­ery party in the House of Com­mons.

Rep­utable char­i­ties such as Rape Cri­sis Scot­land and Scot­tish Women’s Aid are re­fus­ing to “col­lude” with any scheme to as­sess en­ti­tle­ment for vic­tims.

SNP health sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son has now writ­ten to the UK Gov­ern­ment, to ad­vise that there will be no co-oper­a­tion from the Scot­tish NHS on what she has called a “ter­ri­ble pol­icy”.

As a re­sult, Scot­tish NHS work­ers will not re­ceive White­hall guid­ance on how to im­ple­ment it.

This re­sis­tance from women’s’ char­i­ties and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment raises very se­ri­ous ques­tions about how the Tories will be able to op­er­ate the rape clause in Scot­land in prac­tice.

You may won­der where the Scot­tish Tories have been through­out this.

Af­ter months of si­lence, Ruth David­son ini­tially tried to hide be­hind her of­fi­cial spokesper­son, then last week came out in open sup­port of the rape clause.

She did so with a pa­thetic at­tack on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment, at­tempt­ing to de­flect at­ten­tion from her party’s di­rect re­spon­si­bil­ity for this pol­icy.

No amount of mis­di­rec­tion or fuzzy photo op­por­tu­ni­ties will help Ruth David­son out this time.

She may think that she has detox­i­fied the Tories in Scot­land, but this episode has left clear for all to see that the Con­ser­va­tives truly are the nasty party.

This column was sub­mit­ted be­fore Tues­day’s announcement about a gen­eral election.

It is ab­hor­rent the Tories think this pol­icy is morally ac­cept­able

Un­der fire Ruth David­son has faced crit­i­cism for her fail­ure to con­demn the so-called ‘rape clause’

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