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Law will recognise children born from rape as victims for first time

By Bianca Castro >>

(20 January 2023)

Children born from rape will be recognised as ‘victims of crime’ after the government announced the victims’ bill would extended the definition of the word.

England and Wales will be among the first countries in the world to give victim status to those conceived through rape.

The government’s decision follows a public campaign by a woman who was born as a result of a historic rape in the 1970s. She can only be referred to as Daisy.

Daisy, 46, was placed in foster care and adopted when she was just a few days old. When she turned 18, she discovered through her adoption file that her birth mother had been 13 when Daisy was conceived and had named Daisy’s father as 28-year-old Carvel Bennett.

No criminal action had been taken against Bennet at the time. Daisy tracked down her birth father and pushed for him to be prosecuted. Bennett, then 74, was eventually convicted at Birmingham Crown Court. He was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment.

The government said it will amend its upcoming Victims Bill to clarify that children born from rape are entitled to support from criminal justice agencies including the police and courts and should be treated as victims in their own right.

It is estimated thousands of children are conceived from rape each year.

The amendments will apply to children whatever age they are and will cover all sexual offences which can result in a pregnancy.

It means individuals who believe that they were born as a result of rape are entitled to make a complaint to the police, in their own right and to receive information and access support in the same way as any other victim of crime.

Justice secretary and deputy prime minister Dominic Raab MP said: ‘No child born in these horrific circumstances should be left to suffer alone, which is why we must ensure they can access vital support whenever they may need it. Our Victims Bill will amplify their voices and boost support for all victims at every stage of the justice system.’

Kate Ellis, Daisy’s legal representative at Centre for Women’s Justice, said: ‘Daisy has led an extraordinary campaign. Motivated by her own experiences, she has set in motion a vital conversation about the ‘hidden harms’ suffered by children who are born as the result of a sexual crime.

‘We hope that this change in the law will not only ensure support for people born of rape who contact the police – but also enable them to play a crucial role in supporting a police investigation. Sometimes, as in ‘Daisy’s’ case, a child who has been conceived by rape may even provide a crucial DNA link that enables the perpetrator to be convicted, so it is extremely important that they are fully supported to engage with a police investigation.’

(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)