Social Security (Restrictions on Amounts for Children and Qualifying Young Persons) Amendment Regulations 2017 (Statutory Instruments 2017 No. 376)
(The ‘Rape Clause’)
The Board of Directors of the Rape Crisis Centre in Glasgow met on Thursday 23rd March, and at that meeting decided that as a point of principle, the organisation would not co-operate with the Department of Work and Pensions by being a ‘third party assessor’ collecting evidence to confirm that a woman’s child/ren had been conceived as the result of a rape.
This amendment comes into law on April 6th 2017 for new claimants.
No woman should be forced to prove her own rape, or even speak about it until she decides the time is right for her, and elects to do so to a person of her choosing.
Rape Crisis’ role is not to gather evidence for benefits claims. Our role is to provide specialist support to survivors of sexual violence, abuse and/or exploitation. Indeed we are poorly enough resourced to do this job yet we deliver a service that is second to none. It is not our job to operate as an arm of the Department of Work and Pensions.
This week, a joint letter was submitted by Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and Engender, to the Secondary Legislation Security Committee at the House of Lords. It stated:
“We have substantial concerns regarding the UK Government’s plans to pursue its two-child limit for tax credits (shorthanded as the ‘family cap’) and the child element of Universal Credit (shorthanded as the ‘rape clause’) and particularly the operation of the exemption for children conceived as a result of rape.”
Rape Crisis in Glasgow agrees with the joint submission that “The ‘rape clause’ will retraumatise women who have survived rape by forcing them to disclose rape at a time and in a context not of her own choosing, on pain of deeper impoverishment, even though evidence shows that plans such as the forced disclosure of sexual violence can exacerbate post-traumatic stress disorder and increase a sense of shame and isolation.”
We also fully support Alison Thewliss MP, in whose constituency the Rape Crisis Centre is based, in the tireless work she has done raising the issue in the House of Commons. We urge further debate on this issue and a response that will protect women and children, not increase the danger they face from abusers.