A few weeks ago, I wrote about the neglect of Rotherham council (and the police), towards the women who survived historic abuse there. This week, Sammy Woodhouse, one of many victims, has once again been put in the spotlight, for further abuse.
Rotherham council, classing her imprisoned rapist as a parent to her child, have invited him to play a role in her child’s life. Sammy has been in the news this week because, though she was not named by The Times article about this, she has taken it upon herself to speak out against this horrendous injustice. She is calling for a law change to prevent rapists, who have been proven to pose a danger to the mother and child, being able to apply for parental rights.
These women, the survivors, will never be able to escape what has happened to them. When the council are not only doing little to help them move on, but are actually worsening their situations, how are rape survivors ever supposed to feel like people are on their side? For the council to offer this man the chance to father a child he forced upon someone is absolutely unacceptable. All it does is reinforce the idea that a rapist will never truly suffer the consequences of their actions. This man is in prison for 35 years, he is a danger to this family, he has not explicitly requested access to the child, and yet the council have sought him out to offer him this opportunity. He does not deserve it.
We must all rally around Sammy Woodhouse, and women like her, and the government must sit up and listen. Woodhouse, with the help of Louise Haigh, MP, is calling on the government to change the 1989 Children’s Act to prevent this from happening again. To say that this man does not pose a threat of significant harm to Sammy, or her son, is a legislative ignorance of the ongoing suffering of sexual abuse. Rapists should not get access to children conceived by rape, ever. If they have raped the mother, then they are a danger to her and the child, and forcing the mother to have anything to do with them ever again is further abuse.
This man is not fit to be a father, when he biologically became one by such violence. Children should not be at risk of being under the care of anyone who has committed such a violent crime, especially when the parent who has looked after that child since she gave birth to it as a teenager is so vocal about the harm that this will cause her family. Rotherham council has belittled these women enough. We thought it was over with the start of the sentencing, but until it is widely understood that a father is more than someone who has forced sperm into a woman, until it is appreciated how much women like Sammy have had to overcome to get where they are now, it cannot be over.