A child rapist jailed in 2016 as part of the Rotherham Child Protection Scandal, was contacted by Rotherham Council in 2017 and invited to participate in care proceedings relating to the son he conceived with his underage victim.
Sammy Woodhouse was just 14-years-old when she first met Arshid Hussain, known locally as ‘Mad Ash’.
Hussain was one of three brothers behind the grooming and sexual abuse of more than 50 girls, including troubled teen Sammy.
He manipulated the vulnerable youngster into a starting sexual relationship, lavishing the the inexperienced teen with attention and convincing her that he was in love with her.
But as soon as Sammy had become emotionally dependent on her abuser, the once affable Hussain quickly turned violent. He subjected his underage girlfriend to brutal beatings, which continued even after she fell pregnant with his child at the age of fifteen.
When Sammy’s parents learned of the relationship, they reported Hussain to the police. But authorities failed to take the matter seriously at the time, with one police officer even allegedly asking the youngster out on a date.
Child Rapist Arshid Hussain Left Free To Abuse For Over A Decade
Child protection officials only stepped in once Sammy’s pregnancy became known, making the underage mother the subject of a child protection order.
But Hussain himself would not face any legal repercussions for almost a decade, until he was finally arrested as part of the Yorkshire Police’s Operation Clover investigation into historic sex crimes.
Hussain was jailed for 35 years in 2016, thanks in part to the courageous testimony of Sammy Woodhouse and other young girls he had victimized over the years, as part of an organized child exploitation gang which operated unchecked in Rotherham for over two decades.
Rape Gang Survivor Becomes Campaigner For Rights Of Victims
In the two years since Hussain’s trial, Sammy Woodhouse has become a high-profile campaigner, waiving her right to anonymity as a victim of rape, in order to draw attention to the systematic failings which allowed the exploitation of vulnerable young girls in South Yorkshire to carry on for so many years under the noses of the local authorities.
Despite the physical and emotional scars left by her abuse, she felt she was beginning to put her ordeal behind her.
But when her own son became the subject of care proceedings last year, the mother-of-two was shocked to learn that her rapist had been contacted by the same council that has turned a blind eye to her abuse a decade before.
UK Law Grants Automatic Rights To Rapist Dad
Although Hussain is not named on the child’s birth certificate and has never had parental responsibility for the child, he was invited to apply for parental rights and told that he would be kept informed about the outcome the care proceedings, as he was considered a respondent in the case.
Under UK law a parent is automatically given notice of care proceedings, regardless of whether they have ever had parental responsibility.
But even in cases in which care proceedings are not in play, any parent has a right under existing UK legislation to apply for access or visitation with their child, regardless of the circumstances of their conception.
This means that a convicted rapist has the same legal entitlement as any other parent to apply for access to a child conceived through rape.
If they chose to take advantage of these rights, their victim would be obligated to appear in family court, as well the child, where they may be cross-examined as a part of the proceedings. An exemption may only be granted in cases of extreme domestic violence or cases of stranger rape, in which the assailant is unknown.
Survivors and Politicians Call For Change To Rapist Rights Law
Now leading politicians from across the main parties are calling for a review of these provisions, which shadow policing minister Louise Haigh claims may cause victims of sexual violence to “relive and replay the whole experience and the trauma all over again.”
For Sammy Woodhouse a change in the law can’t come soon enough, speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Programme she said, “We’re constantly being re-victimised and as a rape victim I’m constantly told ‘well actually, he’s got his human rights’.
“What about my human rights? What about other people’s human rights and our children and our right to constantly have to keep our children safe?”