Scrap the Clause

c9otdxxw0amd1an-jpg-largeAhead of this evenings demo in George Square, Ceris Aston @insocrates argues that it’s time to stand up for our rights and for the rights of others who suffer under this bitter and brutal austerity regime.

Sometimes you wake up and feel like you’ve gone back in time – been swept into the dark ages, before workers’ rights or women’s rights, before the introduction of the Welfare State. Last week the UK government launched its new family cap on child tax credits, limiting them to a maximum of two children. It is an attack on the poor, under the guise of ‘responsible parenting’. The rhetoric of the irresponsible poor is used again and again to distract us from the ugly truth of austerity – that it is born not of necessity but of ideology. And people buy it – ‘Why should I pay to look after someone else’s kids? It’s hard enough looking after my own?’. People are distracted, blame a poor woman with three children for the struggles that they themselves face.

As with many of the other austerity measures implemented last week, the family cap betrays the very roots of the welfare state. Benefits are not a form of charity – though charities are too often now called upon to plug the gaps left by a crumbling welfare state – and they are not taken from the pockets of those who so grudgingly dole them out. They are paid for, by a process of taxation designed to ensure that when people go through hard times they are not abandoned to struggle alone. We pay in to the system, and when we are struggling, it pays out. Yet those on benefits are doubted, shamed, called scroungers and see their rights and their only means of survival stripped away.

“How vile that this government would consider putting a woman, who may already feel extremely vulnerable, in the position where she had to confess to a government official that her child had been born as a result of rape. How stigmatising, for that woman, for that child and for the family. Piling humiliation on top of pain is not the essence of ‘protection’.” – Alison Thewliss MP

There is no doubt that the Family Cap on Child Tax Credits will push women and children into poverty, while the rhetoric surrounding it exposes the classism and brutality of those who have made this decision. Yet there is an exception to the family cap rule – a so-called ‘compassionate’ exception. Should a woman be able to prove that a third or subsequent child was born of rape – ‘non-consensual conception’ – then that child will be eligible for child tax credits. Behind this, once again the notion of the ‘good victim’, of the ‘deserving poor’. Women are to be forced to recount details of their trauma – some, for the first time – in order to prove that they are not irresponsible mothers, that they merit the child tax credits for a third child. It is a choice between the trauma of disclosure and the suffering of poverty. It is not a compassionate choice and it is not a choice that any woman should ever be forced to make.

Organisations across the UK have spoken up against both the Family Cap and the Rape Clause, while in Scotland women’s organisations Engender, Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland have roundly condemned the policies. Scottish Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis were called upon by the Department of Work and Pensions to act as third party verifiers that the date of a child’s conception matched the date of rape. They refused to collude with the policy – citing its basic immorality, the risk of re-traumatising women, their fundamental position of believing the stories of victim-survivors of rape, and the damage that helping to implement this policy would do to the relationships that they have with service users. Wherever women suffer as a result of this policy – and there can be no doubt, women will suffer – the blame will lie not at the door of these organisations fighting for women’s rights, but at those of the departments set to strip these same rights away.

We rally today because we are angry. When the very institution tasked with protecting the rights of citizens is set on pushing women and children deeper into poverty, then it is right to be angry. We will not watch our hard-won rights be stripped away by a Conservative party that has redefined compassion, and welfare, so that the words are left with a bitter tang. We will stand up for our rights and for the rights of others who suffer under this bitter and brutal austerity regime. As our government seems set on turning back the clock, we will not allow the progress that generations before us have strived for to be lost.


DEMO: Scrap the Rape Clause & Family Cap, 6pm, Thurs, George Sq, Glasgow. Let’s make our voices heard. Details here.

Comments (5)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Wul says:

    Many of our current political leaders went to boarding school from the age of 8yrs old (some as young as 6yrs).

    The trauma of being separated from their primary care-giver and source of familial love and affection probably caused damage to their ability to empathise with fellow human beings.

    As a by-product of this frightening, competitive environment many learned how to dissemble, deny their feelings, collude with the powerful, cover up mistakes and attach blame to the innocent.

    Being charitable, I can only assume that something like this explains the fact that any person could call the rape exemption clause “compassionate”.

    A new book by Alex Renton explores the environment that has bred many of today’s “top dogs”.

    1. Legerwood says:

      “”The trauma of being separated from their primary care-giver and source of familial love and affection probably caused damage to their ability to empathise with fellow human beings.””

      You mean their nanny?

      This policy is wrong in so many ways, at so many levels. It just beggars belief.

  2. Willie says:

    No one should be surprised at what is happening. What we are seeing is the destruction of social protection and the welfare state. The lack of protection and abject poverty for many was the way of Victorian times and we are headed there again.

    The UK simply cannot afford health care, pensions, social protection. But it can afford aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and all the other necessary acutriments of the imperial Great British state.

    Time the people got used to it, because they voted for it, and until they vote against it, they’ll just have to suck it up. A cynical point maybe, but absolutely true.

    1. Wul says:

      Things we can, however, afford:

      Tax subsidies for grouse moors.
      Private schools getting “charity” status, tax & VAT relief.
      Topping up (by taxpayers) of the poverty wages paid by large corporations.
      Single Farm Payments (hand outs to large landowners for owning land)
      Cutting deals with corporations and collecting just a fraction of the tax they owe. (good for “enterprise”)
      Allowing our wealthiest citizens to use our publicly-funded infrastructure but pay nothing into it.
      Free use of Scotland’s land for anyone from anywhere. Take as much as you can.
      Councils pay 5 times the value of a school to hedge funds (the schools fall down & kill our children)
      Letting people make profit from our citizens, in our country but keep the profits elsewhere and pay no tax.

      etc etc…..

      1. Willie says:

        Ah Wul, sounds like you are giving us a recitation of the ” Union Dividend” that so beguiled when many were comforted into voting no. As I say, folks will just have to suck it up.

        But with nuclear sabre rattling over in Korea, and our own Armageddon military complex just down the road from Glasgow, poverty and exploitation might actually be no bad thing by comparison.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.