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Protesters rally against 'vile' benefits rape clause

Around 300 campaigners attended the event in Glasgow's George Square.

Protest: Scottish Tory leader under increasing pressure.
Protest: Scottish Tory leader under increasing pressure. PA Images

Protesters have gathered to demand the scrapping of the UK Government's so-called rape clause, as they branded the policy "vile" and "despicable".

The rule requires rape victims claiming tax credits for a third or subsequent child to prove they became pregnant as a result of an attack or while in a coercive relationship in order to qualify.

The policy has sparked a political row in Scotland, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon describing it as "appalling".

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said she supports the exemptions the UK Government has put in place on restrictions to child tax credits, saying she wants to see ministers "implement them in the most compassionate way possible".

Around 300 campaigners attended a rally in Glasgow's George Square on Thursday evening to call for the Government at Westminster to change its stance.

Addressing the crowd, SNP MP Alison Thewliss, who has been at the forefront of the fight against the changes, said no UK ministers have been able justify the policy to her.

"It is vile, it's cruel and it stigmatises not just the women but those children too," she said.

"Imagine how dreadful it would be to find out that that was the circumstances that you came into this world. The Government has no right to do that to children in this country. It is appalling.

"This Government has proven time and time again that they don't understand domestic violence, they don't understand the circumstances that women are living in.

"They need to know and they need to hear from people just how despicable this policy is."

An estimated 300 protesters attended the rally in the centre of Glasgow.

Sandy Brindley, the national coordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland, spoke out against what she described as a "horrific policy".

She told the crowd: "If you think about the circumstances of somebody who becomes pregnant as a result of rape, to put them in the position where they need to decide about poverty or disclosing a rape to the Department for Work and Pensions, it is just unspeakable.

"I do not think as a society we can tolerate this. We need to be treating women much, much better than this."

Earlier, Ms Davidson claimed Ms Sturgeon will be guilty of "gross hypocrisy" if the Scottish Government does not act to bring in a new benefit mitigating the clause.

In response, Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "Pathetic. @scotgov spends millions mitigating welfare cuts & will continue to do so. We wouldn't have to if Tories didn't make callous cuts."

The Tory leader continues to face mounting pressure to make a personal statement on the issue after releasing a statement through a spokesman.

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