In a highly controversial move, the Government have put new tax credit plans in place. Since 20 January, women whose third child was born as a result of rape will have to provide evidence in order to claim tax credits.
In what appears as a humiliating and extended period of suffering for rape victims, the plans will force women to relive their terrifying experiences.
Women’s rights groups have claimed that the so-called rape clause demonstrates the Government’s deep lack of understanding regarding sexual abuse.
The proposal to limit tax credits to two children was first introduced by George Osborne in 2015. In April this year, the plans will come into effect.
To claim tax credits for a third or subsequent child, a mother will now have to consult a third party. This may include a GP or social worker.
The Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs recognised the handling of the exceptions as “extremely sensitive”. However, it has been said that it’s “important to have an exception in place to support claimants in these circumstances”.
Once evidence has been provided, the third child or subsequent children will be exempt from the tax credit cut. However, if the mother is still living with the partner, and perpetrator of the rape, the claim would be exempt.
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish MP has since launched a campaign challenging the Government’s “appalling” proposal. The posters used in the campaigns read “stop the rape clause”, a phrase which has also been used on social media platforms like Twitter.
Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said: “We are profoundly disappointed to see the publication of these new rules which make entitlement to child tax credit dependent on proving rape.
“The obvious difficulty of requiring women to identify a child as a ‘product’ of rape, and then having a third party verify this claim, should have been enough to force a complete rethink of the whole policy proposal”.