Immigration is a difficult subject to broach in public or even private discussion. People on all sides have an opinion and debates on the topic become heated almost inevitably. This point particularly comes to head when a crime is committed by an immigrant against a born citizen of the country in question.
A woman named Sammy, 15 years old at the time, from Rotherham, England, was raped repeatedly by an immigrant 10 years her senior, resulting in the conception of a baby boy. Later, when UK law allowed the convicted rapist visitation rights so he could see his son, the mother, and many others, had more than a few words to say about it…
Life in Rotherham was challenging for Sammy Woodhouse, as it was for so many other young girls barely into their teens. Due to mass immigration to the city in the 1980s, a huge community of Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi people settled there. And while most of those immigrants were law-abiding and hard-working, some had other things on their minds. Woodhouse was at school with many Pakistani immigrants, and many lived on her street.
During the late 70s and 80s, under a Labour government in the UK, hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Pakistan and other countries were offered full-time citizenship. Without going into all the legal and social intricacies of the matter, it’s safe to say that a foreign culture was implanted onto a small seaside town over a short period of time, and that led to social issues further down the line.
When Woodhouse was just 15 years old, she became involved with Arshid Hussain and his cohorts. These men have been accused of raping girls aged 11-16 over a fourteen year period. Hussain, a well-known drug dealer, raped Woodhouse so many times she fell pregnant with his child. Hussain was later jailed for 35 years for sexually abusing up to 50 underage girls.
When the allegations came out that groups of Asian men were grooming and raping British children, the police, council, government and just about everyone else forged a massive coverup for fear of being dubbed as prejudice. In many cases, the children were blamed by the police for being “child prostitutes” while their parents were threatened if they reported the rapes to the police.
Having been raped repeatedly since the age of 15, Woodhouse decided to keep the child. The baby’s father, Hussain, 43, was not named on the birth certificate and had no parental responsibility for the child whatsoever. But in a bizarre twist that has left people stunned, Rotherham council recently contacted Hussain in jail and told him he had a right to see the child.
Another survivor, Linzi Williams, who was also raped and impregnated by Hussain when she was 15, told MailOnline.com that she felt the decision to allow him to see Woodhouse’s child was “absolutely disgusting.” “I am speechless that this would be allowed to happen,” she said. “Social services are supposed to protect children and people from pedophiles and rapists not give them contact.”
These survivors, who number in the thousands, are already outraged that authorities covered up the systematic rapes for decades. To add insult to injury, and for reasons so far unexplained, the council and social services are now forcing rape victims to allow access to children to the men who raped them. “It’s just another massive betrayal by social services, how are people supposed to start trusting in them when they do something as stupid as this?” said Williams.
Due to a technicality within British law, guidelines state that all parents, regardless of parental responsibility, should be given notice of care proceedings. That also includes convicted rapists, who also have the right to such information. As such, Woodhouse has been campaigning to have the law changed so that her child doesn’t have to have contact with his rapist father.
Another survivor of the Telford grooming gangs who goes by the name of Holly Archer told reporters that she fully supports Woodhouse’s attempts to have this diabolical law amended. “I fully support Sammy’s campaign; there are similar situations in Telford, and across the rest of the country,” she said. “Survivors of child sexual exploitation and child sex abuse risk having their children removed or their rights as a parent taken away from them and given to abusers and their families.”
Cycle of Abuse
As Archer explained, “This is a continuous cycle of abuse, when will it end? Using the most important thing in these survivors lives and passing it to men who systematically raped and abused them, is totally disturbing,” she said. She also questioned how many children are put in direct danger as a result of this technicality, noting that immediate change is necessary.
As a follow-on to the debacle, Rotherham Council is now seeking guidance from the Ministry of Justice after the government cast doubt on its decision. A spokesman from the council told reporters: “As the public would expect, we have already begun to review the specifics of the case. … Concluding the review will take time, and we are asking the Ministry of Justice to work with us on this to ensure that it is completed thoroughly and properly.”
Duty to Comply
According to Rotherham Council, they have a “duty to comply” with Family Court practice directions when care proceedings are enacted. According to them, directions include a “requirement to notify every person whom the applicant believes to be a parent without parental responsibility for the child.” But as one government official said, “Courts should consider the potential harm to the child and mother when making this decision.”
The main thing here is for authorities to protect the survivors of rape as well as their children. As the government official pointed out: “It is imperative that clarity is realized as soon as possible, not just for Rotherham, but to ensure that other councils across the country who may face similar issues are able to act with certainty and no more survivors of abuse have to experience further trauma.” Woodhouse spoke about the issue on a radio talk show.
Rotherham Council were forced into making a statement to clarify their official position after Woodhouse appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show. “As a rape victim I’m constantly told he’s got his human rights,” she said. “What about my human rights? My main issue is I have to fight every single day for something just to be treated like a human being.” Woodhouse took issue with the fact the council wasn’t looking out for the best interests of the child involved.
On a Plate
According to Woodhouse, “They should’ve fought for that child.” But what happened clearly wasn’t in the child’s best interests. “What they’ve done is hand my son over on a plate to a rapist,” she said. Woodhouse also spoke to Good Morning Britain where she said she was “mortified” at the decision to give Hussain access to her son. “I was completely shocked and mortified,” she said. “I thought when I testified in court, and he was sentenced to 35 years, I thought that was it, I can move on.”
According to Nazir Afzal, former chief crown prosecutor for the North-West, South Yorkshire council’s decision, in this case, was as “perverse” as it was “ridiculous.” “They (councils) think they are doing the right thing because they are told it is important the child has access to both parents, but it is wrong,” he said. “By following the letter of the law they are lacking judgment – they are applying a tick-box approach when it is plainly a ridiculous thing to do.”
Louise Haigh is the shadow police and crime minister who is backing Woodhouse’s campaign to change the Children Act 1989. She spoke to The Times about the case, stating that the council’s decision was “appallingly insensitive.” “They handed him an invitation to re-traumatize his victim,” she said. “No man who has fathered a child through abuse or rape should have the right to apply for custody or visitation rights,” she added.
The move by Woodhouse to petition for a change in the law has been met with a lot of support across the board. Baroness Newlove, the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, also spoke about the decision: “This appears to be a case in which a victim of the worst sexual violence faced the prospect of continuing to be abused by her perpetrator, this time via the family courts.”
When Woodhouse’s son got wind of the issue, he was “seduced” by the idea of meeting his real father for the first time. She said her son was “catapulted into a dream world” by the prospect of a relationship with his jailed father. He later changed his mind, but the fact he was given false hope just added to the trauma for this poor family.
For Woodhouse and other victims, a change in the law is imperative so they can get the much-needed closure they need for what they’ve been through. The prospect of rape children being offered access to their fathers is a bizarre one and not something that can be allowed to happen. For the time being, campaigners like Woodhouse are doing what they can to apply pressure in the right places to have the law changed once and for all.