It’s not just me: Rapists all over Britain are getting access to children they father with their victims, says Rotherham mother
- Arshid Hussain, 43, was given the chance to see her son by council officials
- Sammy Woodhouse, 33, who waived her right to anonymity following her ordeal
- She wants the law to be changed so rapists can’t see kids fathered in attacks
Rotherham grooming survivor Sammy Woodhouse warned last night that secretive family courts are allowing rapists access to the children they fathered with their victims ‘up and down the country’.
She spoke out after it was revealed this week that her abuser Arshid Hussain, 43, was given the chance to see her son by council officials.
The mother-of-two was just 15 when she was groomed and made pregnant by Hussain, ringleader of a notorious gang in the South Yorkshire town, and later helped blow the whistle on the scandal.
Sammy Woodhouse was raped as a teenager and gave birth to her son aged fifteen – but the baby’s father was only jailed in 2016
He is serving 35 years in jail for sex offences against multiple victims, some as young as 11.
Miss Woodhouse, 33, who has waived her right to anonymity, told BBC Radio 5 Live that the same thing was happening to victims across the UK. She called for a change in the law to stop rapists having access to children conceived through sexual abuse.
She said she was fed up with hearing about their ‘human rights’ and blamed the secretive family court system for discouraging women from complaining for fear of breaking the law.
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Police handout photo issued by South Yorkshire Police of Arshid Hussain, who raped Sammy Woodhouse
‘It’s not just happening to me, it’s happening all over the country,’ she said. ‘With the family court system, women aren’t allowed to speak about it until the child turns 18.
‘But I want a way for mothers to come forward to tell the Government what’s happening and for them to be protected.
‘I am fortunate, the rapist doesn’t want contact so my son doesn’t have to see him. But other women have had children removed, they have to go to support centres, sit there and share access [with the person who raped them].’
On her case, Miss Woodhouse said: ‘Not one social worker can make this decision – management would have been involved, legal teams involved and courts involved.
‘I want to know who and why and for what reason they thought it would be okay to hand my son over to a serial rapist. I want those people held to account.
Arshid Hussain was jailed for 35 years after being convicted of raping Ms Woodhouse and assaulting young girls. He was shot in the stomach in 2005 and now uses a wheelchair
‘Rotherham Council has offered the man that raped me to apply for custody so he could make decisions and basically have full control over my son or what happens in his life.
‘After everything my son and I have been through, all the failings of Rotherham Council, here we are again. They offered my son on a plate to this dangerous man. He is a proven risk, it’s outrageous. All I hear is, he has human rights, but what about our human rights?’
Rotherham’s Labour MP Sarah Champion said ministers could change the law now but were passing the buck to local authorities.
‘They then sit back and go, “It’s up to the councils, they interpreted it wrong”,’ she said. ‘It shouldn’t be about interpretation, it should be black and white.’
Sammy Woodhouse, a survivor of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, who has called for a law change amid claims that the father of her child, who raped her as a teenager, was invited by a council to play a role in her son’s life
It is understood officials told Hussain of his rights last year when they applied with the consent of Miss Woodhouse to take her son, now a teenager, into care. She was struggling with his complex needs and agreed he would receive greater protection in a residential placement.
By law, councils are obliged to notify ‘all respondents’ of such proceedings, including those with ‘parental responsibility’.
Despite acknowledging in writing that he had no parental responsibility for the boy and that Miss Woodhouse had been emotionally, sexually and physically abused by him when pregnant, the council named Hussain as a ‘respondent’.
They informed him of his rights and promised to keep him informed of all future court proceedings.
Miss Woodhouse, who helped convict Hussain by testifying against him, was even told he could be allowed to attend hearings. This would have left her facing her abuser in court for a second time.
He could have also requested visiting rights or for her son, who wanted nothing to do with his father’s family, to be placed into the custody of his relatives. However, Hussain opted not to become involved with the boy.
A council spokesman said it was reviewing the ‘specifics’ of the case and seeking urgent talks with government officials about how family court directions should be applied. She added it had never been the intention to put any child at risk.
Rotherham Council was slated over its inaction when an estimated 1,400 girls in the town were abused by sex gangs over 16 years to 2013.
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