A woman who was sexually abused as a teenager by violent Rotherham grooming gang ringleader Arshid Hussain is demanding a change in the law to stop councils encouraging rapists to seek access to their victims’ children.
Sammy Woodhouse, who was groomed by the serial rapist from the age of 14 and gave birth to his son when she was just 15 years old, waived her right to anonymity following a front-page story in Tuesday’s Times revealing a mother had been “extremely distressed” upon learning the council had offered to help her abuser become involved in her son’s upbringing.
“This story is actually about myself, about my son and about the man that raped me and the fact that Rotherham Council [has] offered him to apply for parental rights over my child even though [it was] proven in a court of law … that he was a danger to myself and other children,” she revealed.
The Times: ‘Jailed rapist given chance to see his victim’s child’.
Rotherham council have offered convicted rapist access to my son.
— Sammy Woodhouse (@sammywoodhouse1) November 27, 2018
“This isn’t just happening to me. This is happening to people all over the country. It’s wrong and it’s got to stop,” said the 33-year-old, announcing a campaign to change UK laws so that “rapists can’t gain access to children conceived through rape.”
“Children are being removed, given to rapists, murderers, for their family to have access. Rape victims are also having to go to support centres to share access, to see the men that raped them,” Ms Woodhouse stressed, adding: “I’m asking the public to join the campaign. People — women and children — are being put at direct risk.”
Concerned About ‘Giving Oxygen to Racists’, MPs ‘Ignored Our Cries for Help’: Rotherham Victim https://t.co/EOprb33GEy
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 9, 2018
Campaigners described the situation which emerged from the Times investigation, which did not identify the family or local authority, as “perverse,” asserting that the council had basically handed the serial rapist “an invitation to retraumatise his victim.”
The situation came to light after the child’s case came before a family court last year, when the council sought a case order for him with the support of his mother, who believed the boy would receive greater protection in a residential placement as she felt unable to cope with his complex needs, according to The Times.
Councils are required by law to contact all “respondents” when such an application is made, however in this case the man had no parental responsibility for the child, while the court notes reportedly made clear that the boy wanted nothing to do with his paternal family.
“I was gobsmacked,” Ms Woodhouse had told the paper. “The council knew what he did to me and to other vulnerable girls. They knew he was behind bars and a risk to my son, who wanted nothing to do with him, but they bent over backwards to include him in the case. I felt angry and scared for my son.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 13, 2018
The Ministry of Justice, which has launched an investigation into whether the action was “a case of an individual social worker making a mistake or a systemic error,” told The Times that court rules made it “very clear that applicants in care proceedings should only ever notify people who have parental responsibility for the child.”
Ms Woodhouse last year opened up about her experiences, lamenting that she and other girls in Rotherham were “betrayed” by authorities in the town, whose liberal sensibilities prevented them from taking any action against “manipulative” Hussain, who labeled critics of his behaviour “racist.”
The now full-time campaigner against child sexual exploitation (CSE) has sought to change the laws to pardon survivors of crimes committed while in the grip of grooming gangs, speaking out about her own ordeal.
She told how, as a 14-year-old, she had been discovered by police hiding under the bed, almost naked, at one of Hussain’s properties, by police, to whom she had been reported missing by her parents.
But rather than detaining her abuser, officers had arrested Ms Woodward, taken her to a police cell and handed out a caution for possession of an offensive weapon, because her handbag contained a baton given to her by Hussain.