Forgotten victims: conceived in rape
Forgotten victims: conceived in rape
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Latest: Jan. 26, 2023
We did it!
The Government announced last Thursday (19th Jan) that the long-awaited ‘Victims’ Bill’ will now extend the definition of a ‘victim’ to include people who are born as a …
In August this year my story hit the news when my birth father was convicted of raping my birth mother, over 40 years after his crime. She was just 13 years old at the time. I was the result of that rape and I believe that I, and the many others who were also conceived in rape, must be recognised as secondary victims to allow them better support from the justice system and assist in further prosecutions. Please help me by supporting this campaign.
I was a walking crime scene
My name is Daisy and I am an adoptee. As a child, I knew very little about my birth parents and their background. It was only as an adult that I was able to get hold of my adoption file and discovered the devastating truth in black and white: that I had been conceived by a rape. My birth mother, who was from a black British family, had been a child at the time, under the age of consent. Despite this, I learned that no action had been taken against the man that my birth mother had accused.
After I learned all this, I went to the police. By that time, I had met my birth mother, and talked to her about what she had been through. It was clear that she had no interest, at that time, in persuading the police to re-open the case, having already been let down once – but I did. I wanted the man who had done this brought to justice: for what he had done to my birth mother, for what he might have done to other children – and for what he had done, indirectly, to me.
His abuse of my mother had an enormous impact on my own life, quite literally from the moment of my birth. Because of what he did, I was born to a birth mother who could not possibly keep me; I grew up in adoptive care; and I have had to come to terms as an adult with the painful story that pre-dates my birth.
I thought that the police would see this as an ‘open and shut’ case. What had happened to my birth mother was child sexual abuse, and was well-documented, even though no action had been taken at the time. Not only that, but I was effectively a walking ‘crime scene’: my DNA would be able to prove beyond doubt that it was this man who had conceived me.
I was shocked therefore when the police told me there was nothing they could do. In fact, they said that they could not even launch an investigation because there was no identified ‘victim’ without my birth mother herself making a fresh statement to the. They said that I had no right to pursue a complaint myself, no right to any kind of victim support, and no right to detailed reasons for the decision to take no action.
My birth father’s conviction
Over time, my birth mother changed her mind about coming forward. Thanks to her bravery, this August, my birth father – my mother’s rapist – was at long last brought to justice for his 46-year-old crime. He was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment at Birmingham Crown Court. After years of campaigning for this outcome, I was finally able to look him in the eye and tell him of the carnage he had caused: both for my birth mother, and for me. Both of us have had to live for over 45 years with what he did.
It is still unbelievable to me however that if my birth mother had disappeared altogether – if she had died, or if she hadn’t had the change of heart that she had – the police would have refused even to consider whether a criminal prosecution was possible, despite my DNA evidence and my determination to support a prosecution.
In addition, it shocked me that – since I was not recognised legally as a victim, with a vested interest in the investigation – I had no established right whatsoever to be kept informed as any criminal case against my birth father progressed. This was a criminal case that concerned the very fact of my conception.
At my birth father’s Sentencing Hearing, the prosecutor and the judge even paid tribute to my insistence on pursuing criminal charges – ‘doggedly, and with determination’ – for so many years, acknowledging that it had been instrumental in (ultimately) enabling justice to be done. How then can it be that the system affords me no rights whatsoever as a secondary victim – and crucial evidential ‘witness’ – of the crime?
What I want to do
Rape affects hundreds of thousands of women living in our country today. There can be no doubt that there are other people like me out there, coming to terms with a realisation – in childhood or in adulthood – that they were born because of a sexual crime.
It is my belief that children conceived in rape are also victims, and that giving us ‘victim’ status will allow more prosecutions of perpetrators.
This is about public protection, and it is about justice. It is also about understanding how painful, even traumatic, it is to make a discovery like that about your identity: how it left me struggling for the rest of my life to feel ‘normal’, to feel positive about who I was. Children born of rape deserve justice too; they deserve to be treated as victims when this hideous crime has forever deprived them of a normal family life.
With the help of Centre for Women’s Justice, a charity which uses the law to hold the state to account to improve policy and practice around violence against women and girls, I want to change the law so that children born as a result of a rape can be recognised as secondary victims of crime. I also want to appeal to the authorities to consider ‘victimless’/evidence-based prosecutions in historic rape cases where there is compelling documentary and forensic evidence available which could conceivably result in a conviction. Finally, my legal team have advised me that I might have grounds to take legal action against West Midlands Police arising from past failings – but if I am to do this, I will need help covering at least some of my lawyers’ costs, like Counsel’s fees and other expenses.
Widening the definition of ‘victims’ in this way will, I hope, also mean that there can be specific support for individuals and families affected by rape conception, which is a complex issue about which there has, as yet been little research.
What I need
In order to achieve all this I will need a legal team who can support my case, help me to secure meetings with the right people, and give me advice on the novel legal issues that I am trying to raise, so that I can be sure to have the impact I want. Being legally represented will mean that I have a better chance of persuading legislators and policy-makers to make the changes in the law that I want. In particular, I hope to launch a campaign for children conceived by rape to be recognised as victims as an amendment to the upcoming Victims’ Bill.
The lawyers at Centre for Women’s Justice, who started by advising me for free, have agreed to continue acting for me on a relatively tight budget, but will need at least £10,000 to cover their time and expenses, and a budget in place for Counsel's fees. I think this is a relatively small amount of money to achieve such a significant change in the law.
If you want to see children born of rape guaranteed better rights, better treatment and better support from the justice system, please consider donating to support this action.
How else will your donation help?
Centre for Women’s Justice is a not-for-profit, which means that any profit costs it recovers can be used to facilitate further charitable work.
In this case, although some of the funds raised through this CrowdJustice may be spent on expenses arising from my case, I have agreed with the CWJ team that the remainder will be ring-fenced to assist in other cases or projects that will benefit victims of crime from a black and minority ethnic background.
I believe it is highly likely that my birth mother’s race, as a black British child from a working-class background, was a factor in the neglectful way that she was treated by the authorities when she first disclosed the sexual abuse she had suffered as a child. I also believe it is a factor in the hostile and dismissive way that the police responded to me when alerted them, as an adult, to the fact that no action had been taken against my birth mother. I was told that I was a ‘vexatious’ complainant, and left feeling that the police did not want to hear or understand my anger, as a black woman, about the way this crime had shaped my life.
My experience is not uncommon in this respect. Black and minority ethnic victims often face additional barriers to justice, in the context of sexual violence specifically and indeed in other areas of crime. I would like to know therefore that as a result of my CrowdJustice campaign, other black and minority ethnic victims will receive support from the Centre for Women’s Justice when they fight, like me, to be heard.
Thank you for your help achieving this goal!
Media coverage of my story
I spoke to Emma Barnett on Woman's Hour: You can listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09sjqfy
You can read more about my case here:
 See for example this recent report from the black feminist charity Imkaan on the experience of minoritised women affected by sexual violence: https://f98049e5-3f78-4cfd-9805-8cbec35802a7.usrfiles.com/ugd/f98049_a0f11db6395a48fbbac0e40da899dcb8.pdf
Jan. 26, 2023
We did it!
The Government announced last Thursday (19th Jan) that the long-awaited ‘Victims’ Bill’ will now extend the definition of a ‘victim’ to include people who are born as a result of rape. The UK may be the first country in the world to officially confer victim status to children born of rape.
‘Daisy’ has long argued that children who are born as a result of rape are often profoundly impacted by the circumstances of their birth, and suffer a range of harms long into adulthood.
On 30 September 2022, the cross-party Justice Select Committee endorsed submissions made by the Centre for Women’s Justice in support of ‘Daisy’s Law’, and recommended that the definition of victim should be extended within the draft Victims’ Bill.
The Government have now endorsed this recommendation and intends to amend the forthcoming Victims Bill to include this provision so that such victims will be recognised in thestatutory ‘Victims’ Code’, which sets out the rights available to all victims who report a criminal offence to the police. The Government’s report can be found here.
The change in law will entitle individuals who believe that they were born as a result of rape 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.
‘Daisy’ also hopes that the change will raise awareness, in the longer term, that people born of rape are often at risk of serious harm, given the defining impact that this can have on their lives and relationships from birth. She hopes in the future there will be better understanding of their experiences, and that children born of rape will be better supported to overcome the trauma surrounding their birth.
“This is incredible but yet the right decision. My campaign started because a child was raped and not believed, leaving a perpetrator to walk free and be of risk to other children for over 40 years. I want to take this moment to note the bravery and courage of my birth mother.
I hope other people impacted by rape conception now feel seen, and the trauma for many of us in some way acknowledged. Thank you to CWJ, everyone who has supported, donated to the CrowdJustice campaign and continues to offer encouragement. To all those impacted by rape conception, I hear you.”
In a statement released 19th January, the Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic 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.”
Aug. 15, 2022
Daisy’s Law’: New Research!
An evidence review commissioned by Centre for Women’s Justice has found that children born as a result of rape are at risk of suffering serious and long-term harm due to the distressing circumstances of their birth, from infancy well into later life. The publication of this report coincides with the launch of a Policy Briefing by Centre for Women’s Justice, urging the Government to introduce ‘Daisy’s Law’ as part of the upcoming Victims’ Bill – a set of proposals that would recognise children conceived in rape, legally, as victims of crime, and entitle them to specialist care and support.
The evidence review – carried out for Centre for Women’s Justice by independent researcher Dr Vicky Butterby, and Dr Kate Butterby, a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Durham University – highlights that between 2,080 and 3,356 children could have been conceived in rape within a single year (from January 2021 to December 2021) in England and Wales alone. At the same time, it notes that there is a disturbing lack of research and data examining the prevalence of ‘rape conception’, and its impact on the mothers and children concerned.
An earlier study, which is cited in this evidence review, found, in 2014, that nearly 85% of children born of rape were reported by their mothers to display unusual/concerning behaviours such as stunted development, unexplained physical pain, aggressive behaviour or persistent feelings of sadness.
The research also highlights a range of evidence suggesting that abuse and neglect towards children conceived in rape may be common. Evidence suggests that mothers may feel ‘reminded’ by the child of the rapist – particularly in cases where the child is male – or of the horrific ordeal they have been through. As a consequence, they may experience conflicting and oscillating feelings towards the child, or even (in some cases) neglect the child’s care and their physical health. There is evidence that both mothers and children will often suffer from attachment difficulties and poor mental health, which in turn can profoundly negatively affect a child’s development and educational outcomes, as well as his/her wellbeing in adulthood.
In the wake of this important research, ‘Daisy’ – a campaigner represented by CWJ, who was herself born as a result of rape – will be making renewed calls for Parliament to recognise individuals born as a result of rape as secondary ‘victims of crime’ in the upcoming Victims’ Bill. Affording rape-conceived persons this legal status in statute will, it is hoped, help counter the dearth of safeguarding measures and support currently available for rape-conceived children (and adults), for whom such a discovery can be profoundly traumatic and impactful.
In addition, the recognition of rape-conceived persons as secondary victims – with their own statutory right to pursue a criminal complaint, if they wish to do so – may significantly improve the prospects of historic rape/child sexual abuse offences being recorded and even in prosecutions being brought, where appropriate, in cases where the pregnancy itself is compelling evidence of the crime.
CWJ is proud to be supporting Daisy’s campaign for legislative change.
Feb. 10, 2022
We call on the Government to introduce "Daisy's Law"
Earlier this month CWJ made submissions to the Victims’ Bill consultation. One of the four areas addressed in this submission was the need for children born as a result of rape to be recognised as ‘secondary victims’ of crime (“Daisy’s Law”).
We call on the Government to introduce proposals within the Victims’ Bill which recognise children born of rape as ‘secondary victims’ of crime, and afford them rights for the first time under the Victims’ Code.
Affording ‘rape-conceived’ persons this status in the Victims’ Bill will, it is hoped, help counter the dearth of recognition and support currently available for children (and adults) who are born as a result of rape, for whom such a discovery can be profoundly traumatic and/or can cause long lasting damage to their mental health.
In addition, affording individuals born of rape their own statutory right to pursue a criminal complaint, if they wish to do so – will significantly improve the prospect of historic rape/child sexual abuse offences being recorded and investigated. It may even result in more prosecutions being brought – where appropriate – in cases where the pregnancy itself is/was compelling evidence of the crime.
CWJ's full submission is available to read ("Daisy's Law" is covered from p 22) here - CWJ_Victims_Bill_Submission.pdf
Oct. 20, 2021
We've reached our target!
I have just spent 10 minutes weeping with utter joy and gratitude £10k target reached. You are all incredible. I’m totally overwhelmed. Whatever the donation large or small, it’s truly amazing. After years of not being listened to, treated disgracefully, for you all to hear me, wow!
The page will remain open for now so it would be wonderful if you could continue to push. Any funds not used on my legal challenge will be moved to a restricted fund for black and minority ethnic victims.
Thank you all for your support!
Oct. 19, 2021
Winner of the Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize!
As some of you may have seen, the Emma Humphrey's Memorial Prize ceremony, for campaigners raising awareness of violence against women and girls, was held over the weekend. I was absolutely delighted to be announced the winner. Thanks to the Guardian for covering my win. My acceptance speech is below. Please, please, please keep sharing this campaign and pledging. We are so close now!
I am so sorry I can’t be with you in person today but just a quick message to say thank you so so much for the award it was incredible just to be amongst the nominees but to actually win is amazing after such a long long solitary experience.
Rape conception still remains very much a taboo subject and I am very proud to shine more of a light and give a voice to the experience of being rape conceived. I must spend a moment thought to give due respect to my birth mother’s incredible bravery.
As a child 46 years ago, she was not believed or protected. I hope that she now feels validated, empowered and that some degree of justice has now been served.
My experience of the criminal justice system in relation to myself and this case has been gruelling and hostile. This must change for others in my position. Now that my birth father has finally been convicted of rape I can now move forward with my campaign. We must recognise children conceived of rape are secondary victims of the crime. I believe every part of the law should be considered to obtain justice and increase safety for women and girls.
It is a complex issue that has long been neglected but does not mean that we should be shying away from it. We are at a crucial time in which legislative changes can assist in more prosecutions in cases like mine. Again, it is an honour to receive this prize and a big thank you to all of my friends and family for the support. An enormous thank you to Centre for Women’s Justice and especially Kate Ellis.
Thank you so much again. Take care, bye.
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