Why Rotherham abuse survivor Sammy Woodhouse wants children conceived through rape to be recognised as victims

Children conceived through all forms of sexual abuse should be legally recognised as victims of crime, says Sammy Woodhouse.

Sammy Woodhouse
Sammy Woodhouse

The abuse survivor who had her son by her rapist, Arshid Hussain, is lobbying the Government for changes to the law so that children conceived through rape and abuse are entitled to the same support as their mother.

The change to the law would also mean that a child can report sexual abuse they were a product of to the police, and Ms Woodhouse hopes this will see an upturn in prosecutions.

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"When you think about how many people there are out there who have been sexually abused, there must be so many more children who are also victims in some way," said Ms Woodhouse, 35.

The vocal campaigner against child sexual exploitation has this week written to Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins laying out the case for the change in the law.

It comes after a debate was held in Parliament earlier this month over child sexual exploitation, in which Ms Woodhouse's campaign was backed by Labour MP Jess Phillips.

Her calls for a change to the legal recognition of children of rape as victims has also been backed by Ms Woodhouse's MP for Rother Valley, Conservative Alexander Stafford.

She said: "I told my son when he was only 11 or 12 that I had been raped. I wanted to wait until he was older, but I had to because it was all over the media. For a child of that age to have to process this is incredibly difficult and at the stage, we were not even aware that my rapist had legal access to his child."

Ms Woodhouse spoke out in 2018 after discovering Hussain, who was sentenced in 2016 to 35 years in jail for his crimes against her and other girls, was told he had the right to request access to see his child.

The Government has since launched a review into the presumption of parental contact in cases where a child was conceived through abuse.

The Yorkshire campaigner has said that the current laws also mean that children of rape who are put up for adoption do not legally have to be told, meaning some people do not learn their father is a rapist unless they request to see their adoption documents.

"This status would bring prosecutions up. Hypothetically, if I told my son I was raped but I didn't want to tell the police, he could report it without me and there could be an investigation without me. My son was the key to all of this in my case - he had the DNA to show for it.

"What it would also mean is the Government funds charities such as Barnardo's and Rape Crisis so children can get specialist support. One woman I know was told to 'go and set up her own support centre' after seeking help.

"My son is getting turned away from everything. All we are asking to be done is a change to the law so that children are recognised as victims of CSE in the same way they now are for domestic abuse, and for a bit of funding for more help.

"This is not just for children of victims, but for the families of perpetrators too. There is currently no direct service in this country that deals with people have been born as a result of rape."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice told The Yorkshire Post that anyone affected by a crime could access victim support and that sexual abuse was a priority for the Government.

He said: "There is movement in this area. We have invested £40m in support services, and £20m of that will go directly into victim support outposts in the community.

"We have also launched a review into the presumption of parental involvement."

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