Just weeks from a general election, Theresa May has essentially described rape as a lifestyle choice. The comments underscore her reputation for callous disregard of those facing the toughest life circumstances.
During Prime Minister’s Questions, SNP MP Christopher Stephens asked the Prime Minister to think again about her ‘rape clause’ policy. The government now requires women on welfare to ‘prove’ they were raped in order to claim child benefit for a third child. At the point in a woman’s life where she has been raped and has faced the decision to proceed with the pregnancy – she then faces a grilling from untrained staff at the Department of Work and Pensions.
— Dr Paul Monaghan (@_PaulMonaghan) April 15, 2017
But May’s response was chilling in its disregard for rape victims. After a rambling introduction to her answer, May told the House of Commons:
We know that what the SNP want to do is scrap the policy in its entirety.
We believe that people who are in work have to make the same decisions as those people who are out of work. So that those people who are on benefits should have to decide whether they can have more children.
By definition, a survivor of rape has not made a lifestyle choice. A rape survivor has hardly had the chance to perform a cost-benefit analysis of her situation. The Prime Minister’s response was tone-deaf. It dismissed the lived experience of rape survivors, and the tough decisions they face.
Theresa May was finally forced to defend the Rape Form she makes victims fill for benefits. Her response is chilling pic.twitter.com/SNFR0goeWB
— Eoin Clarke (@LabourEoin) April 26, 2017
All opposition parties oppose the so-called rape clause. During a debate in the Scottish parliament earlier in the week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
The rape clause is wrong in principle. The Equality and Human Rights Commission… said just at the end of last week that because of this policy there is a clear re-traumatisation of rape survivors. No woman, no woman anywhere, should have to prove she has been raped in order to get tax credits for her child. And I actually can’t believe that in 2017 I am having to stand up in the Scottish Parliament and make that argument.
Labour in England, Scotland and Wales have also denounced the plans.
— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) April 26, 2017
The rape clause only exists thanks to a Conservative majority in the House of Commons. But on 8 June, UK voters can do something about that.
– Read more Canary articles on austerity.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election. If you don’t have a national insurance number, a 5 minute phone call on 0300 200 3500 will get it sent to you in ten days.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
Featured image via YouTube screengrab