Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham has said the Government must issue “immediate” and “clear guidance” after it was revealed that local authorities had invited Sammy Woodhouse’s abuser to apply for parental rights to her son.
Ms Woodhouse was groomed and raped by the ringleader of a paedophile gang in Rotherham, and is now calling for a change in the law.
She was 15 when she was raped by Arshid Hussain, and subsequently became pregnant.
Hussain was jailed for 35 years in 2016 after being convicted of multiple sex offences against Ms Woodhouse and others.
Ms Champion described Ms Woodhouse as a “tireless campaigner for the rights of victims and survivors”.
She added: “She has bravely stepped forward this week to shine a light on another egregious failure of victims by this country’s justice system.”
'No moral person'
An investigation by the Times found that social workers from Rotherham council had contacted Hussain in jail and invited him to apply for access to his son during a court case last year.
The boy was subject to care proceedings in the family court, and despite Hussain not being listed on his birth certificate and having no parental responsibility, he was listed as a respondent in the case and visited by social workers.
Ms Woodhouse has waivered her right to anonymity to reveal the initial story in the Times was about her and her son.
Ms Champion added that “no moral person” could allow any rapist to influence decisions that “impact the welfare of a child”.
“It is appalling that any rapist might be allowed influence over decisions that impact the welfare of a child conceived through rape,” she said.
“Surely, their rights are waived because of the act of rape? No moral person could argue otherwise.”
'The law protects the rights of abusers'
The Labour MP added that Ms Woodhouse’s case could not be looked at “in isolation”.
“To prevent similar cases to Sammy’s occurring, the Government need to immediately issue clear guidance so there are no grey areas when it comes to safeguarding,” she said.
“We cannot look at Sammy’s case in isolation, for it is symptomatic of the multiple injustices victims and survivors face after their abuse.”
She added: “Too often the law protects the rights of abusers and perpetrators, and not their victims. Victims must be central to any justice system. It is their rights that the system should uphold.
“We need a step change that offers information, advice and support to victims from the moment of disclosure, through the court process and into the long-term.”