‘Mortified’

Child rape survivor speaks out after legal loophole gives her rapist a chance for parental rights

Sammy Woodhouse. (YouTube / DW)

A survivor of child rape has called for a change to British law after her jailed rapist was allegedly offered the option to apply for “parental rights” over her son, who was conceived as a result of the attack. Sammy Woodhouse, who waived her legal right to anonymity in order to come forward with her allegations, said that the issue arose after the local council in the British city of Rotherham began seeking alternative care for her troubled son — a measure that Woodhouse had approved. But without even notifying her, she said, the council contacted her rapist, Arshid Hussain, as a potential respondent — despite the fact that he did not have parental responsibility nor even his name on her son’s birth certificate.

“I was absolutely mortified when I found out and the fact as well that they did not even tell me what they were doing until I was actually at court,” Woodhouse told Good Morning Britain on Wednesday. In the courtroom, she added, she was informed that her abuser, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2016 after being convicted of 23 child sex offenses, would be allowed to attend the court hearings and potentially be authorized visitation rights. Furthermore, she alleged, the council claimed that her son could even be put in the custody of Hussain’s relatives.

“This is happening all over the country and it needs to stopped,” said Woodhouse.

Woodhouse’s decision to speak out, she said, was motivated by her desire to prevent a similar situation playing out for other victims of rape. She has called for a change to the 1989 Children Act to ensure “rapists can’t gain access to children conceived through rape and abuse.” Woodhouse was one of 1,400 children who were abused in Rotherham over 16 years by a network of men, most of whom allegedly belonged to Pakistani gangs.

In a statement, a Rotherham Council spokesperson said it was in touch with the U.K. Ministry of Justice to determine how to deal with legal requirements that include “giving notice of proceedings to parents with or without formal parental responsibility.”

“It is imperative that clarity is realized as soon as possible, not just for Rotherham, but to ensure that other councils across the country who may face similar issues are able to act with certainty and no more survivors of abuse have to experience further trauma,” said the spokesperson.

Watch a video interview with Woodhouse below.

Read the full story at CNN.

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