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From: The Socialist issue 944, 12 April 2017: NHS: Walkouts can win

Search site for keywords: Universal Credit - Rape - Women - Children - Cuts - Claimants - Domestic violence - Housing benefit - Tax credits

Scrap the Tory 'rape clause' and all benefit attacks

End violence against women!, photo Louise Whittle

End violence against women!, photo Louise Whittle   (Click to enlarge)

'Joseph White', civil servants' union PCS member

Changes to child tax credits and the 'Universal Credit' benefit system will mean that people making a new claim from 6 April will have the number of children they can claim for capped at two. One exception to this is if the third child was born as a result of what the government calls "non-consensual conception."

However, in order to prove this was the case, there is an eight-page mandatory form that the victim will need to fill out.

Dubbed the "rape clause," it will require the claimant not only to name the child the exception will apply to, but also have a "third-party professional" fill out part of the form.

This represents a new low for the government.

Disgracefully, the exemption will not apply to claimants who still live with their rapist - despite a British Crime Survey finding that 45% of rapes happen within current relationships. Attacks can be extremely difficult for victims to disclose, let alone prove.

In evidence presented to the House of Lords, the manager of the Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre said: "We have more than 30 years' worth of empirical evidence that tells us that the most dangerous time for a woman and her children is at the point of leaving an abuser. In the UK a woman is murdered every three days by a partner or ex-partner."

This latest attack on women compounds the threat posed by the housing benefit cap, which could close two-thirds of the already insufficient number of women's refuges.

Women and children need material support to escape abusive relationships and live stable, independent lives. The Tories' rape clause punishes victims and will endanger lives for the sake of reducing the bosses' tax burden.

The Socialist Party says: scrap the rape clause. Reverse all benefit cuts and fund secure, genuinely affordable housing for all. You can't fight domestic violence without also fighting the cuts.

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