Rotherham sex abuse survivor described as ‘brave and courageous’ in House of Commons

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Rotherham sex abuse survivor Sammy Woodhouse was described as ‘brave and courageous’ in the House of Commons.

Commons Speaker John Bercow announced that ‘brave and courageous’ Sammy Woodhouse was in the chamber for Prime Minister's Questions yesterday, noting she has waived her anonymity to campaign on behalf of rape and sex abuse victims.

Sammy Woodhouse

Sammy Woodhouse

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Sammy, who was a victim of child sexual exploitation when she was a teenager and had a child conceived in a rape, recently launched a petition calling for rapists to be denied access to children fathered through sexual violence.

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She took action when her attacker was given the chance to have a say in her son’s future.

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Arshid Hussain - the ringleader of a notorious child abuse gang who was jailed for 35 years in 2016 - was contacted by Rotherham Council about care proceedings heard last year.

Sammy, who was 15 when she became pregnant, claims the council offered her attacker the right to ‘apply for parental rights’ for her son, including access.

She was one of 1,400 victims of child sexual exploitation identified in an independent report which found that men of predominantly Pakistani heritage preyed on vulnerable young girls between 1997 and 2013 while those in authority failed to act.

During her Commons visit yesterday, Sammy was  applauded by MPs while Prime Minister Theresa May welcomed her, before adding: "I think we all recognise across this House that for too long that it has been difficult for rape victims to speak out.

"I hope that now, following her example, others will recognise that they will be heard and that proper action will be taken."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned of a ‘rape crisis’ faces the country and told Mr Bercow: "I join yourself and the Prime Minister in welcoming Sammy Woodhouse to Parliament today.

"It's a typical act of your generosity to refer to her in the gallery today so that others may be emboldened to deal with the horrors of the rape crisis we face."

Shadow policing minister and Sheffield MP Louise Haigh called on the Government to withdraw the parental rights of men who have fathered children through rape.

She said: "Does the Prime Minister agree that no man who has fathered a child through rape should have parental rights and will she seek to amend the legislation through the Courts and Tribunal Bill when it comes back to this House so that men who father children through rape cannot weaponise the courts to access children and re-traumatise their victims all over again?"

Mrs May responded: "The Ministry of Justice and other departments are urgently looking and working with local authorities on the issues that are raised in this case to ensure that there is a process in place in future that does protect children and mothers."