[Content Warning: discussion of sexual violence, rape]
George Square was about as full as Ruth Davidson’s twitter mentions yesterday with people rightfully raging about the DWP’s latest shiniest shame: The Family Cap and Rape Clause. The policy was formally introduced UK wide on 6th April, giving lots of people some time to make sweary signs.
The Rape Clause has (thank fuck) seen more than a fair bit of backlash already, with #ScrapTheRapeClause trending, a petition calling for its abolition and increasing national media coverage. But shout out to the demo organisers, speakers and a lot of people there who didn’t let anyone forget this especially outrageous clause is only Part II of a double shit show.
Part I is The Family Cap or Two Child Cap that will see child tax credits offered and restricted to only two children. If you have a third, fourth or fifth wean, they don’t get a look in – unless the criteria laid out in this form can be met. Welfare is permitted and poverty alleviated if (and only if) it can be proven any subsequent children are the result of a rape.
Proposing this cap is a brazen, blatant and particularly stomach churning way of targeting the already vulnerable. It hones in on people living in or on the edge of poverty, seeks out specifically poorer women and mothers (in particular those who are likely to be raising children on their own) and punishes them. This is an all too familiar trend of trying to ‘discourage’ people who sometimes rely on benefits from having children – it is sinister as fuck, not even nearly subtle and it needs to be fought every time it reappears after a cheap make-over. A bit like the SWP, more on that story later.
People well off enough that they can rely on savings, inheritance or rich family if they ever find themselves in crisis are a safe distance away from the net the benefits system is supposed to be. So choosing between poverty and disclosing is a choice the cap and subsequent rape clause will impact most on poorer, more marginalised survivors. You can draw your own conclusions from that but my fivers firmly on that not being an accident.
Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid released this statement earlier this month which was also supported by Engender Scotland, explaining why they will definitely not be giving haunners in enforcing this policy like they were asked to. Naw, really, the DWP asked them to. Openly refusing to join in with this pish is actually a big deal and a bold move. They’re third sector organisations that rely on government funding and are always (always) strapped for cash and at risk of cuts. So in case anyone needed reminding: organisations who work with survivors might be skint, but they’re not shitebags.
As if that wasn’t enough to get me pie-eyed before noon, then we got a whole demo organised by people who aren’t dangerous that only gave the megaphone to women. Those women were able to draw on their experience and expertise in feminist activism to talk about what’s wrong with all of this and went further, highlighting the marginalised women it will hit hardest.
Alison Thewliss, who’s fronted the campaign against both the bill and the clause at Westminster spoke of the way it would stimagitise ethnic minorities and religious groups, discourage blended families which happen following people chosing the live with their new partners, who may have children from previous relationships and tell people “we only value the first 2 children…that’s not acceptable in a free society.”
Sandy Brindley from Rape Crisis Scotland explained how vital it was for surivors to have “control over you who tell and when you tell” and was was greeted with loud applause when she explained there was “no way this is something we’d be complicit in.”
Mridul Wadwha of Shakti Women’s Aid managed to capture sentiment of a lot of sweary signs in a way that was Safe For Work, telling us: “There is no place on earth for a policy like this”. She called out the brutal ‘no recourse to public funds’ status so often used to deny immigrant and BME women any benefits at all, and gave everyone a much needed reminder to be “angry for those women who get nothing”.
Talat Yaqoob described the feeling of being “disgusted into silence” by “misoygny being delivered by government policy” but reinforced the need to keep fighting because “we can’t be allowed to be silent” and “we have to campaign…until the law is scrapped.”
Last but by absolutely no means least was everyone’s favourite for future First Minister, Mhairi Black. As soon as she started speaking I went right weak it the knees so I’ve had to ask someone else what she said. [“the policy itself is disgraceful,” “life is complicated, all it takes is one accident, one redundancy” and of Theresa May “gender doesn’t matter if you rip the ladder from other women”] I do know that she was definitely not talking shite, hen.
Speaking of shite, it wouldnae be a day ending in y without unwanted, unwelcome and generally unfuckingbelievable brassed necked activists from the misogynist left. I found it more than a bit refreshing to be at a demo in Glasgow that wasn’t marched on by loads of people with uniform signs who definitely didn’t have an invite. Last night the SWP/SUTR/Honestly, We’re Not Another Front For Those Bad People weren’t round the corner having their own very important and definitely not awful side-gig. My other fivers on that definitely not being an accident either, given this demo had a lot to do with shining a big light on gross mistreatment of survivors of sexual violence. And formally rallying about that would be a bit too much of a brass neck – even for them. But you can always rely on Solidarity, complete with Guy Fawkes masks to be leaping about waving flags in honour of Misogynist Agent Orange. They were, at various times, heckled, chased and deflagged before finally fucking off.
But in stark contrast to the usual long line of “weren’t you at the one last week and the week before?” speakers, we were delighted to see, women – 6 of them– ready, able and game to give you a fair breakdown of what the script is, in their own field of work. Take note, every editor in Glasgow about to commission lots of men to do another bad write up on all of this (or, ‘to do an Iain’).
Now I’m all out of fivers but if anyone’s up for tapping me one I’ll put it on this belter getting rebranded and backdoor-ed even if some bits of it are officially ‘scrapped’. As things stand the now though, that’s quite ambitious. Either way, there’s more to come, and keep up this doing-demo’s-right-thing for more than five minutes Glasgow, and we might actual start to realise that not being treated appalingly maybe isn’t that ambitious after after all.
More From Our George Square Correspondents:
Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AThousandFlowers
Follow us on Twitter @unsavourycabal