In Brief

Rotherham grooming rapist offered chance to see victim’s child

Grooming victim Sammy Woodhouse said she was ‘gobsmacked’ to learn rapist Arshid Hussain had right to apply for parental role

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A woman who was a victim of a Rotherham grooming gang has spoken of her outrage after learning that her rapist had been offered the right to seek visits with the son he fathered.

Sammy Woodhouse, now 31, was one of around 50 girls and young women who were groomed and abused by Arshid Hussain and his two brothers over a 20-year period.

Woodhouse has waived her right to anonymity to demand a change in the law to protect other rape victims and their children, a day after The Times first reported the story without identifying her.

In a video posted to social media, she said that a Rotherham Council social worker had contacted Hussein - who is serving a 35-year prison sentence - to offer him the chance to apply for parental rights over the boy, who was to be the subject of a family court hearing.

“I was gobsmacked,” she told The Times. “They knew he was behind bars and a risk to my son, who wanted nothing to do with him, but they bent over backwards to include him in the case.”

She called for action to “ensure that no rapist will ever be able to access a child conceived through rape or abuse”.

Last year, Woodhouse described how she was 14 when she was groomed by then-24-year-old Hussain, who called her his girlfriend and took her out on “dates”.

He and his brothers, Basharat and Bannaras, were well-known figures in Rotherham’s criminal underworld, linked to drug dealing and gangland violence as well as the abuse and exploitation of dozens of girls.

As well as being sexually abused, often by multiple men, their young victims “were... also forced to store guns and drugs for the gang”, the BBC reports.

She was 15 and in care when she became pregnant by Hussain, but said that authorities failed to take action despite being aware of the situation.

“I was always treated as his equal by the authorities – and not as his victim,” she said, adding that she battled depression and suicidal thoughts after understanding the true nature of their relationship.

The Ministry of Justice has said that it is investigating the “very distressing incident” to assess whether the decision to offer Hussain a role in the care proceedings was “an error or the result of a wider problem with the law”, says The Times.

A spokesman for Rotherham Council insisted that the social worker was following a legal requirement to give notice of family court proceedings to the parents of the child concerned.

Rotherham became the centre of a national grooming scandal in 2014, when an independent inquiry concluded that at least 1,400 girls had been abused by sex rings in and around the town since 1997.

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