Politics

Solidarity: Scotland standing together against The Rape Clause

April 14, 2017

My mother has six children.

When I was born, there were already three kids under the age of 16 in the house. We were not bathing in riches, nor were we struggling for bread – we were a typical, everyday family who worked and paid tax and received tax credits.

Which is why, when the UK Government introduced the Family Cap and the Rape Clause, I was more than pissed off.

As I’m sitting writing this, with a slight stitch in my side and my hair pinned hastily back from my face, I can hear young girls on this train. Their bottles are clinking together and they’re talking about Nicki Minaj – they aren’t talking about how one day they could have to fill out a form thicker than their recent school essay if they want to support a third child.

“Do you want a straw?” One slurs to the other.

“Aye, it matches my top,” she replies.

And I suppose I’ll never know if they’re aware of what’s going on inside their own government right now. I’ll never know if they will go on to have a third child out of pure love, and not be able to support them due to this government. I’ll never know if they will go on to have a third child out of a non-consensual attack and have to sift through traumatic memories to provide evidence to support the child they never agreed to have.

 

What is the Family Cap and the Rape Clause?

Disgusting.

But more specifically, fucking disgusting.

When you’re in secondary school you look around with eyes wide in horror when your Modern Studies teacher tells you about China’s one child policy. There’s the kid at the back who doesn’t believe it’s real, there’s another who asks about what would happen if you had twins, and there’s one who goes red in the face when they make a quick joke about it and gets ridiculed in response. But every single person is horrified. How can it be real? I remember asking myself. Surely there must be some over-exaggeration.

And it was not until now that I realised that these things can happen, and that the UK version of this policy has just become all too real.

On April 6, the UK Government introduced the family cap – you can no longer claim tax credits for a third child. People have now been limited to receiving support for just two children. And yet, as if this was not disgusting enough, there is an exemption. There is a way to apply for tax credits to help support your third child – if you provide evidence that this child was conceived out of a non-consenual attack. The only way you can get this support is if you prove you were raped.

To feed your child, you have to relive the time you felt so small you couldn’t tell anybody for weeks. To clothe your child, you have to relive the time your whole body shook when you finally got away. To raise your child, you have to bring forth the memories you had stored as far from the front of your mind as possible, and prove that your body was violated and humiliated in such a disgusting and horrible way.

These inhumane policies will do nothing but push women and their children into poverty – it is nothing but an attack on some of the most vurnerable in our society.

 

Glasgow’s demonstration

And so when I saw a Glasgow-based event pop up on Facebook, I went. I didn’t have time to brush my hair, nor change out of the Marvel hoodie that I’d been wearing all day. My bus was late, and I was late for my train. I forgot my SD card, and had to fork out for a new one and missed another train.

But soon I was on the train, my heart beating and my hands becoming clammy under the three layers my mum had insisted I wear. It wasn’t nervousness, I concluded. It was unadulterated adrenaline that I had only ever felt when I raised my hand in class or argued with my brother. I was excited to be a part of a movement that I felt strongly for, and I knew I could document.

Twitter was full of placards and excitement, or else apologies of absent and promises of continuing solidarity. It was absolutely beautiful to see. When I reached George Square, this came out in tenfold. I had very little 3G left on my phone, but I managed to live tweet most of the speakers and do my first ever periscope.


The event was organised by Brenna Jessie, a short girl with a bloody loud voice. I had never heard of her before, but when she lifted that microphone to her mouth I swear I never wanted to hear another voice again. She was nervous, which was to be expected. What she thought was going to be a small event attracted over 300 people armed with placards and opinions that could be seen and heard for miles. When she read from the crumpled paper in her hands, her shaking voice could be dubbed as nervous. But it was not until you stared into this girl’s eyes that you realised that her words were choked with passion and a need to preach her cause to anybody who would listen.

  

When Brenna stood down, Alison Thewliss took her place. She has been campaigning against this clause for over a year now. She stood tall, and brandished a form above her head. The text was too small to read, and yet everybody in the square knew exactly what it was. She held in her hand the form that had to be completed to apply for tax credtis through ‘exceptional circumstances’.

The founder of Rape Crisis Scotland Sandy Brindley was next, bringing with her a clear voice with an even clearer speech. She thanked those gathered for their support – she said: “Thank you for standing here tonight and saying you believe in women”. I feel that we all lifted our chins in pride when she said that.

Mridul Wahdwa of Skati’s Women’s Aid then took the microphone. “There is no place on earth for a policy like this,” she said, and was met with thundering applause.She took the opportunity to shed light and awareness on the women who don’t have access to public funds, and made way for the founder of Women 50:50 Talat Yaqoob to say: “We can’t be silent. We can’t afford to be silent. This is our time to shout. Loud.”

And finally, a short lady in blue jeans and a dark bomber walked out. “I am tired of fighting against policies that we never voted for in the first place”, said Mhairi Black. “This is a disgraceful, disgusting policy that will not happen on our watch.”

If you spot yourself in any of these pictures, feel absolutely free to nab them for yourself.

  

 

 

Periscopes

I realised that I couldn’t keep up with the words being spoken. So instead of snapping pictures and typing quotes, I tried out my first few Periscope broadcasts of some of the speakers.

 

I understand that as a journalist, it is my role to be unbias. To bring forth both sides of the argument and present them in a fair and balanced way. Which is why this blog post, or anything on this blog for that matter, does not reflect the views of my employer at all. This website is a place to express the views and opinions which are personal to me and me alone.

And with that in mind, I urge you to sign this petition.

Sign it to let your voice be heard and abolish this abhorrent policy that will severly distress and dehumanise so many people in our society.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *