Hundreds gather to protest against ‘callous’ rape clause

Rape clause protest at the mound
Rape clause protest at the mound

The sun may have been ­shining during Edinburgh’s hottest day of the year but hundreds of protesters gathered in the Capital to unite against one burning issue.

The highly controversial “rape clause” is a Westminster government policy which caps child tax credits to just two children. It is only extended to a third if the child was born as a result of rape. Women are expected to fill out an eight-page document providing details, and then have it verified by a third party.

Rape clause protest at the mound - Michelle Robertson

Rape clause protest at the mound - Michelle Robertson

Hundreds gathered at the Mound in the Capital yesterday following contentious remarks made by Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey in Holyrood this week.

She said: “This could give them an opportunity to talk about maybe something that’s happened that they never had before. So it is potentially double support there – them getting the money they need and maybe an outlet which they might possibly need.”

Former Labour leader Kezia Dugdale was one of the ardent speakers in front of a lively crowd yesterday opposing the “abhorrent” clause.

Ms Dugdale said: “I stand by your side as another woman, as part of the cause to take this on and defeat it, which is yet another attack on women in our society today.

THIS IMAGE MUST NOT BE USED FOR PARTY POLITICAL PURPOSES.''Handout photo issued by the Scottish Parliament of Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey who was heckled by members of the public in a Holyrood committee meeting covering Universal Credit and the rape clause. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 16, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Welfare. Photo credit should read: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA Wire ''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

THIS IMAGE MUST NOT BE USED FOR PARTY POLITICAL PURPOSES.''Handout photo issued by the Scottish Parliament of Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey who was heckled by members of the public in a Holyrood committee meeting covering Universal Credit and the rape clause. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday April 16, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Welfare. Photo credit should read: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament/PA Wire ''NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

“Then we have the temerity of Esther McVey turning up in the Scottish Parliament this week to say there was double support. Double support is a bra! It’s not a policy to support women.”

The clause has been slammed by Scottish politicians including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who tweeted her support for the protest.

She said: “Support and solidarity to all those protesting against the two child cap and rape clause in Edinburgh.”

The event comes a year after the policy was introduced – at the time, more than 500 people protested in Glasgow’s George Square against the “callous” policy.

Lead organiser of yesterday’s protest, Brenna Jessie, 24, told the Evening News that the campaign will not be going away.

She said: “It’s incredibly important and critical that folk are aware that it is a whole family cap we need to get rid of. If we stop that, the rape clause goes with it. It’s callous that 200,000 children could go into poverty because of this policy.

“This is a cruel policy that expects you to accurately predict your finances for the next 18 years before you have a child, which is completely unworkable. Not a single woman’s organisation in Scotland has agreed to work with the DWP and be a third party verifier, so it just can’t work.

“We’ve had a huge amount of support including cross-party backing, apart from the Tories, so the overwhelming support for this is fantastic.”

Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland said: “This time last year we, alongside Scottish Women’s Aid and Engender spoke out against the two-child cap and rape clause and our opposition to these policies now is as fierce as it was back then.

“We maintain that hingeing benefits on proving trauma isn’t a choice, it’s a disgrace and one which may well re-traumatise women.”

Campaigners were in high spirits showing their determination to scrap the cap.

Annie Rutherford, 28, said: “It’s important to keep awareness going of the way in which austerity affects a huge number of people in Britain. We’re not going to shut up. This is something we will campaign against until it goes away.”

Gordon Maloney, 27, said: “This an abhorrent policy which is an attack on women and on poor people. A quarter of Scottish children are already living in poverty and this is only going to make it worse.”