UNISON’s women’s conference voted against the UK government’s decision to limit child tax credit to the first two children, and the so called ‘rape clause’ which means women who have been raped can apply for exemption by “labelling their child a child of rape”.
UNISON president Margaret McKee spoke passionately on the topic, saying: “This must be one of the uk government’s cruellest ever policies.”
Conference heard at the weekend that many women will never disclose rape to anyone, for reasons including trauma, self protection, shame, and fear for others – including their child.
“Rape victims suffer trauma and shame and the majority don’t report it.But even if they did, how many women want their child to be labelled a child of rape? It is another attack on women,” said Ms McKee.
Debbie Coyle, a mother of seven, told delegates: “I’ve always worked, I’ve worked as a carer in the private and public sector, always on low pay.
“The government needs to be concentrating on encouraging employers to pay a decent wage so that low paid workers don’t need tax credits or universal credits.
“Luckily mine are all grown up – I don’t know how young parents will cope.”
Conference agreed that the rape clause:
- places a stigma on the child;
- forces a woman to admit and prove she has been raped, and to deal with that trauma in a manner which she may not have chosen to do;
- apparently negates the law in that marital rape is a crime, punishable in law, but this benefit does not apply if the woman remains in a relationship with her rapist;
- forces healthcare professional to act as gatekeepers for the benefit system;
- is totally unworkable in practice.