Forgotten victims: conceived in rape

by Daisy

Forgotten victims: conceived in rape

by Daisy
Daisy
Case Owner
I am an adoptee who discovered, as an adult, that I had been conceived by rape.
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Daisy
Case Owner
I am an adoptee who discovered, as an adult, that I had been conceived by rape.
Pledge now

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Latest: 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 tr…

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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.


My story 

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[1] 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:

https://www.centreforwomensjustice.org.uk/new-blog-1/forgotten-victims

https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/he-smiled-knew-who-was-21244320

https://news.sky.com/story/carvel-bennett-rapist-jailed-after-victims-daughter-wins-justice-decades-later-12371859

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/aug/03/rapist-jailed-fight-justice-daughter-born-following-attack-carvel-bennett

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/breaking-rapist-brought-justice-daughter-24676384

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-58073015

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-58269677

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9855191/Daughter-helps-convict-elderly-father-46-years-raped-mother-13.html


[1] 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


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Update 2

Daisy

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!

Daisy

Update 1

Daisy

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!


Hi everybody, 

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.


Daisy

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