Caroline Flint, Labour MP for Don Valley, has this week supported a cross-party letter to support victims of rape by removing the automatic parental rights of those who have fathered a child through rape.
The letter came on the back of the harrowing case of Sammy Woodhouse, the Rotherham child sexual exploitation survivor, whose abuser is serving a 35 year jail term for the rape of Ms Woodhouse and a series of child sexual offences. Her abuser was notified of a variation to her son’s care order and therefore offered the opportunity to seek access to her son.
Both Rotherham Council and practitioners in the family court believe that under the current law, this was required of Rotherham Council as the case was not considered ‘exceptional’ enough to remove the duty to notify her abuser.
Led by Louise Haigh, the MP for Sheffield Heeley, MPs from across different political parties have now come together to lobby the Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke, to change the law to remove the automatic parental rights of those who have fathered a child through rape.
Louise then raised the case in a question to the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and called for a public inquiry into the issue. In her response, the Prime Minister responded that "the Ministry of Justice currently have not seen evidence to suggest that a public inquiry is necessary."
Said Caroline: “It’s important that Sammy’s case acts as a marker to make sure that women and children are protected by our courts system. I was disappointed to learn that the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Justice are not considering a public inquiry into the issue.
“120 MPs of different parties have all signed Louise’s letter and I urge the Prime Minister to consider changing the law so that this cannot happen again.”