MSP Rona Mackay is appealing to Tory MSPs to oppose the “sick and inhumane” rape clause and two child limit.
In a letter, Ms Mackay called on the three Tory West Scotland regional MSPs Maurice Golden, Maurice Corry and Jamie Greene not to be a mouthpiece for the Westminster government.
The family cap limits tax credits to only two children per family – unless the mother can prove that a third child was conceived as a result of rape or during an abusive relationship.
The Tories railroaded through these policies without a parliamentary debate or vote – leaving many outstanding questions with regards to women’s’ rights, the impact on child poverty, as well as how the hundreds of thousands of healthcare professionals will be trained to assess evidence of rape.
Many sexual violence support charities such as Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid have said they will refuse to act as third party verifiers for the UK government, not least due to the trauma and stigma that the rape assessment process will cause both survivors and children of rape.
Rona said: “I hope the Tory MSPs in West Scotland can show some compassion for victims of rape, who will have to disclose deeply personal information and relive the horrors of the past.
“There is no need for Tories to sit silently over the rape clause – they should do the right thing and speak out against what is a sick and inhumane policy.
“The two child policy will mean a loss of up to £2,800 every year per child for hardworking families – driving up child poverty after the UK government scrapped their child poverty targets.
“Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Tories should be thoroughly ashamed of their party but instead they are defending the indefensible welfare cuts coming from Westminster.”
COPY OF LETTER
You will be aware of the UK government’s rape clause and family cap policies, limiting child tax credit support for families with more than two children unless victims of rape or abusive relationships are willing to disclose deeply personal information.
These policies were added to the statute books without a parliamentary debate or vote, and analysis has shown that the two child policy alone will drive an increase in child poverty of more than 10% and result in 266,000 more children living in poverty by the end of the parliament. Rather than working to improve this, the UK government is pursuing a policy that will drive up child poverty.
There are many unanswered questions relating to these policies – including concern that adequate sexual violence training has not been provided to the nurses, doctors and social workers expected to implement the rape clause on the UK government’s behalf. As a result, many sexual violence support charities have said they will refuse to act as third party verifiers for the UK Government.
You may also have read the letter in the Guardian from a group of psychologists voicing their concern that these assessments force women to disclose details that may cause “flashbacks, renewed shame and emotional turmoil, and consequently affect how mothers bond with their children” as well as having the potential to cause identity crises that carry “significant psychological risks” for children and adults who have been born of rape.
Do you condemn these appalling policies, or do you stand by your party’s statement that forced disclosure of rape is the “most sensitive way possible” to manage benefits?
I look forward to hearing your views on the above matters.