Women must have mitigation from new tax credits ‘rape clause’

pb316Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw is seeking assurances a new law requiring women to prove a third child was conceived through rape in order to access child tax credits could be removed by a future Executive without breaching parity.

The Social Security (Restrictions on Amounts for Children and Qualifying Young Persons) Amendment Regulations 2017 will come into effect from tomorrow (Thursday). It will see new claimants having to prove a child has been conceived via rape if they wish to claim tax credits for more than two children.

“I have written to the Department for Work and Pensions emphasising this regulation will serve to re-traumatise many women who have been through an already horrific experience,” said South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw.

“The ordeal of forcing them to recount their rapes before they may be ready to speak about them will do nothing but distress them further. The majority of rapes also occur within a domestic relationship situation, which is much harder to demonstrate under the regulations as drafted.

“There are also particular issues relating to the difference in law in Northern Ireland around disclosure of sexual crimes and access to advice on abortion, which mean women will be particularly disadvantaged here. Mitigation should be possible without breaching ‘parity’ and thus incurring costs to the devolved Budget.

“This amendment went through Westminster last month without a debate or vote. Without a functioning Executive here, these women were not advocated for and had no voice. We need an operating Government able to stand up for women, and to stop them being put in the unenviable position of choosing between feeding their child and having their offspring stigmatised as a ‘rape child’. I want to see an Executive in place and seeking mitigation in this issue as a matter of urgency.”

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