One of the survivors of the Rotherham grooming scandal has asked the government’s safeguarding minister to give children born from rape legal “victim” status which would enable them to receive specialist help and potentially prosecute their fathers.
Sammy Woodhouse – who became pregnant with her first son aged 14 after being groomed and raped – says that despite being recognised herself as a victim of sexual exploitation, there was no support for her son in dealing with how he had been conceived.
She has written to Victoria Atkins, the safeguarding minister, to ask for funding for charities to be trained and offer advice and therapeutic services to mothers and children conceived by rape.
She also wants children of rape to be defined as victims within the law.
Woodhouse, who under a pseudonym was one of the first Rotherham survivors to raise the alarm on the town’s grooming scandal, said: “It’s safe to say children conceived through abuse and rape have suffered enormously, so for me it’s a given. If they are seen as victims it could help such as bringing prosecutions forward if the mother doesn’t want to testify. It will give the children a voice and be recognised as an individual with rights within the law.”
Her abuser, Arshid Hussain, was jailed for 35 years in 2016, and she has since become a campaigner against sexual exploitation.
In the letter to Atkins, Woodhouse wrote: “As you are aware, when I was 14 years old I was groomed, raped, sexually exploited and due to this I conceived a child … It has been extremely difficult for my son, not only has my son had to cope with the fact that his mum was raped and exploited by his ‘father’ but he was conceived from it.
“Despite being recognised as a victim of sexual exploitation in 2013, there was no advice, support in dealing with this for my son and I. In fact the opposite happened. Professionals actively encouraged my son to have a relationship with his rapist ‘father’. This has been the case for many women around the country.”
Woodhouse’s MP Alexander Stafford, a Conservative, said that there was a “significant number” of Rotherham survivors whose children were conceived via rape. “Learning about their conception had a “huge impact” on children’s lives,” he said.
Stafford is particularly concerned that sometimes rapists are allowed to visit the children conceived via their crime. “Rapists should not have access to the child,” he said, adding: “Let’s make material change to legislation.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Under the victims’ code anyone can access support if they are affected by a crime.
“Supporting victims of sexual violence and abuse remains a priority for this government which is why we are investing an extra £40m in support services. We have also launched a review into the presumption of parental involvement in cases where children are conceived through rape.”
As a result of the psychological harm caused by rape and sexual assaults, victims may be may be entitled to make a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA is a government funded body for the victims of blameless crimes.
Here at Farleys Solicitors we have represented hundreds of survivors who have been subjected to horrific sexual assaults and exploitation. For these survivors we realise there is unfortunately no getting away from the horrendous assaults they endured. However, pursuing a claim often helps our clients to bring closure to their ordeal, to provide the resources to fund medical treatments and therapy they may require. Payments are calculated and awarded by reference to a tariff of injuries, which can compensate for sexual and physical abuse but also mental injury following a crime of violence.
You can read more about CICA claims or read recent case studies on our website.
Our dedicated team tirelessly supports victims throughout the process, treating every case with the sensitivity, confidentiality and integrity it deserves. To discuss your case in confidence please call 0330 134 6430 or contact us by email.