Powerful ‘rape clause’ letter read out in Scottish Parliament debate

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Earlier this month, controversial changes to the UK’s tax credit and welfare system came into effect.

The new legislation limits tax credits to the first two children in a family, with the exception of adopted children and those born as a result of "non-consensual conception".

The later exception has been coined the ‘rape clause’, and has sparked rallies and protests in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Many Scottish politicians were quick to condemn the controversial policy and on Tuesday afternoon the Scottish parliament debated a motion criticizing the policy.

During the emotional discussions, Labour party leader, Kezia Dugdale, read a powerful letter written by a woman who became pregnant as a result of rape.

Before reading the letter Kezia told her colleges, ‘’This heartbreaking letter from a rape victim exposes the reality of the Tory rape clause. Or the 'awful form of shame', as she puts it. That is the burden this Tory government wants to put on victims of rape because it doesn’t want to pay for more than two children in a poor family."

In the letter, the woman spoke of how filling out the "form of shame" would leave her feeling suicidal. 

‘’Four years ago, one of my closest friends – someone I trusted – raped me. It happened once. I used emergency contraception but still fell pregnant.’’

‘’I was prepared for the financial hardship having just been made redundant; I was as prepared as I could be for life as a single parent. What I wasn’t prepared for was the impact the labelling would have on my three existing children, born into wedlock and bought up in a stable family home.’’

‘’Tax credits kept our heads above water, a buffer between us and the food bank, for that I am eternally grateful. There is no way I could complete that awful form of shame, no matter what the consequences.’’

‘’Looking back that really could have been the thing that tipped me completely over the edge; the difference between surviving to tell the tale and not.’’

In response, Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "For parents of multiple birth, for children who are adopted, and for those rare cases when a birth of a third or subsequent child is the consequence of a rape, the UK government agreed that the two-child restriction should not apply.''

She continued, "I support these exemptions. Indeed, I can’t imagine that there is a single member of this chamber who does not. There may be many who disagree with capping child tax credits to the first two children, but not – surely – with such exemptions to the cap being put in place."

However, Ruth's opinion seems to represent the minority, as Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, has previously condemned the policy as an “abomination”, and demanded a political U-turn. 

 

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