The “rape clause” – responses from women’s service providers
In order to understand the so-called ‘rape clause’, first you need to know about the ‘family cap’. This is part of UK Government changes to social security (known as ‘welfare reform’) that limits child benefit and child tax credits to the first two children in a household. Families will not receive child tax credits or the child element of Universal Credit payments for third or subsequent children.
This policy was announced in the budget in 2015 and was roundly criticised by women’s organisations who rightly pointed out that it amounts to state intrusion into women’s reproductive decisions. ‘Family cap’ policies also adversely affect poorer women, and particularly women from communities who traditionally have larger families. This includes refugee women and women from some faiths.
In order to provide some political cover for the policy, and without consulting with women’s equality experts, the UK Government buried in the budget the detail that they would include a ‘rape exception’. This means that women could claim child tax credits and Universal Credit payments for third and subsequent children if they were conceived as a result of rape. ...
Welsh Women’s Aid strongly opposes the UK Government’s welfare reform policies that reduce vital social security for women who have more than two children, and introduce an exception where women have to disclose their experience of rape in order to avoid losing money through tax credit restrictions.
These policies are discriminatory and an abhorrent means by which economic coercion is introduced to control low-income women’s reproductive rights, to compel women to disclose sexual violence under threat of financial penalties.
To implement the policy, the UK Government has introduced a third party evidence model whereby specialist support organisations can be listed as being authorised to support a woman in qualifying for an exemption from the two-child limitation to Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit, where her third or subsequent child(ren) were born as a result of rape (referred to as ‘non-consensual conception’). ....
Why our charities refuse to do have anything to do with the Rape Clause bySandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland and Marsha Scott of Scottish Women’s Aid
From today, across the UK, Child Tax Credits will only be available for the first and second child. Third or subsequent children won’t get a look in. That is – of course – unless the child is a result of rape.
The Department of Work and Pensions claim that this rape exemption or “rape clause” will only be applied in the most “compassionate” way, but the question is, can forcing a woman to disclose rape to receive welfare ever really be compassionate? For us – Rape Crisis Scotlandand Scottish Women’s Aid – the answer is a flat-out no.
We should make no mistake: rape is a horrific trauma. Healing from rape is painful and difficult, and a huge part of healing is having control over who and how you tell people about your experience. Despite the myths, rape isn’t usually a stranger jumping from out behind a bush in the dead of night as a woman walks home alone. Often it’s someone you know – a friend, a partner, a spouse. Some people who are raped might never tell anyone what happened to them. Rape and sexual violence are amongst the most underreported, under-convicted crimes there are, and certainly among the most abhorrent. ...