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Children conceived in rape to be classed as ‘victims of crime’ in UK

Image credit: Bethany Beck via Unsplash

The UK government is currently set to officially classify children conceived as a result of rape as ‘victims of crime’. In light of this, children who have discovered they were conceived in rape and mothers who had children as a result of rape have opened up about their experiences, sharing the impacts of learning about the circumstances of their conception has had on these children.

The Victim’s Bill seeks to classify children conceived as a result of rape as ‘victims of crime’ in England and Wales. This will give them the right to access information about their case, to make a complaint in their own right, and to receive any form of support from the police and criminal justice system that they need. Victims can access this help at any time, and will be entitled to have issues such as alcohol or drug dependency, education and housing benefits addressed.

"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,” said Justice Secretary Dominic Raab upon announcing the new plan. "Our Victim’s Bill will amplify their voices and boost support for all victims at every stage of the justice system."

The Victim’s Bill was dubbed as ‘Daisy’s law’ by the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) after the case of campaigner Daisy, who at the age of 18, discovered she was conceived in rape in the 1970s. 

Although her existence was proof of her mother’s assault, she experienced difficulty in bringing her mother’s rapist to court for his crime, where he was eventually convicted in 2021 at the age of 74. Daisy has said that the new governments plan is “momentous”.

"I'm still waiting for it to sink in. I hope this changes things for others impacted by being born of rape and at the very least will make them feel they are not alone," she said.

The CWJ had campaigned for the changes made in the Victim’s bill after recent research showed that approximately over 3,000 children were conceived after rape in England and Wales in 2021.

They further commented that mothers and their children conceived in rape "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 light of this bill, people who were conceived as a result of rape and mothers who had children as a result of rape have shared their experiences and the impacts of learning about the circumstances of their conception, further reiterating the necessity of ensuring these children are given the support they need.

One woman, Tasnim discovered she was conceived as a result of rape after receiving her mother’s diary when requesting her mother’s case files. She had lost her mother, Lucy, to a house fire that also took the life of her grandmother and aunt. Although Tasnim’s was rescued by her birth father, he was the one who set fire to the house that took her mother’s life at the age of 15. Her mother had been groomed and assaulted by her birth father, a taxi driver who was 10 years older than her, which began when she was just 12 years old.

Tasnim has said she feels like the only person in the world going through this, where learning of her conception has left her reeling. Although she says some her mother’s diary passages are hard to read, she tries to focus on the love her mother had for her.

Dear Tas,

You are now 10 days old but when you read this you may be much older.

I love you so much.

One entry reads.

"You want to imagine that your parents are happily in love," she told the BBC. "It alters everything you know, and how you perceive things about your family and about yourself. Because I'm related to a murderer, and also a rapist. And I used to think horrible things like, what if I grow up to be like him?"

"There is a lot of stigma, but there shouldn't be," Tasnim continued. "It's not about who you're related to, I'm my own person. And it's not my fault. I was just affected by it."

"I suppose if I could speak to my mum, I'd want her to know how brave she was," she says. "And just to tell her everything's OK. I'm OK."

A young mother also shared her experiences of explaining to her son the circumstances of his conception. Sammy was one of many young girls groomed and assaulted by a 24-year-old man, that began for her at the age of 14. When her son was 12, she told him about his conception, but has struggled with seeing the difficulty he has faced with understanding it. Although she wants to protect him from the pain, she blames herself for what he is experiencing and feels that he would be better off without her. When he asked her if he was a ‘rape baby’ she responded with “No, you’re my baby”.

Sammy’s abuser is currently serving 35 years, where Sammy’s son’s DNA was used as evidence in the case against him.

In 2021, Sammy met Mandy, another mother who conceived a child in rape, and Sammy has said that the sharing of their experiences has been helpful to her, where she feels able to talk freely with someone who understands her.

Mandy was abused by her father from the age of 11, until she became pregnant with his child. After her father insisted the baby refer to him as ‘daddy’ and became the first person to hold her baby when he was born, she left as soon as she had a chance without looking back.

"That just destroyed me. He held my child first," Mandy says. "I was just thinking, 'Get your hands off him, keep away.'

"He was my baby, he was precious. I was going to protect him forever."  

"He wasn't conceived out of love. He wasn't conceived out of my love. He was conceived by a monster,” Mandy told Sammy. "But by God I love him."

Due to the abuse from her father, Mandy’s son, who is now 30, was born with a genetic disability, where Mandy has to continually provide care for him 24 hours a day.

"I always say I'm the survivor, my son's the victim," Mandy told Sammy. "He didn't ask to be born that way. Because a crime happened to me, it happened to him too."

"What Mandy has shown me is that no matter what you go through, you can move forward and be happy," Sammy told BBC. "People need to talk about this."

It is understood that the implementation of the Victims Bill would make England and Wales the first nation to recognise children conceived in rape as victims of crime. This attempt to recognise the victimhood of the child as well as the mother is a major step in ensuring that both are provided the love, help and support they need to overcome such a traumatic and violating crime committed against them.  

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