Sheffield MP calls for change in law over parental rights of rapist fathers

A Sheffield MP says she is hopeful of forcing a change in the law regarding the parental rights of convicted rapists after starting a campaign with a Rotherham child abuse survivor.

Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, said more than 80 MPs had now signed her motion calling on the government to remove the parental rights of men who have fathered children through rape.

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh. Picture: Chris Etchells

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh. Picture: Chris Etchells

She tabled the early day motion after being contacted by Sammy Woodhouse, who was raped by grooming gang leader Arshid Hussain.

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Hussain, made Sammy pregnant when she was just 15-years-old, and despite not having any parental responsibility for her son, Rotherham Council have reportedly written to him in prison to give him the opportunity to become involved in the boy’s future.

Ms Haigh said: “Sammy and I have worked together for quite a long time on campaigns concerning child sexual exploitation.

Sammy Woodhouse. Picture: James Hardisty

Sammy Woodhouse. Picture: James Hardisty

"When I saw her talking about her experience with the father of child and how he was able to use the family courts to further torment her and her child I wanted to help.

"We have got more than 80 MPs signatures from every single party and we are working with other partners and agencies."

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The motion is calling for the Children’s Act 1989 to be amended and for the relevant practice directions, which notifies rapist fathers of family court proceedings to be reviewed.

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Ms Haigh said she expected a change in the law to be made at some point this year and thanked MPs who have supported the motion.

She added: “The idea of a motion is to show you have enough support for a change and I think the Government will probably take action before we do and prevent itself suffering a humiliating defeat.”