Law to recognise children born following rape as victims of crime for the first time
England and Wales will be among the first countries in the world to enshrine such recongition in law
The government has announced children born as a result of rape will be officially recognised as victims of crime for the first time, and receive better support under changes to the law.
A study by the Centre for Women’s Justice has estimated that potentially thousands of children are being conceived in rape each year.
The upcoming Victims Bill will be amended to clarify that these children are entitled to support from criminal justice agencies. Currently, the lack of explicit reference to people born as a result of rape in the Victims’ Code makes it challenging for them to claim support and entitlements, such as being provided with information about their case.
The change follows a recommendation from the Justice Select Committee who fed back on the government’s draft bill in September 2022.
The landmark legislation seeks to put the victims firmly at the heart of the justice system and increase the accountability of agencies for the service they provide to them. There will be a new duty on the CPS to meet victims in certain cases before trial.
Deputy prime minister, lord chancellor and justice secretary Dominic Raab MP said: “No child born in these horrific circumstances should be left to suffer alone, which is why we must ensure they can access vital support whenever they may need it.
“Our Victims Bill will amplify their voices and boost support for all victims at every stage of the justice system”.
The change will provide victims with better access to the wide range of support all victims of crime should expect, including access to therapy and counselling sessions.
The amendments apply to children born as a result of rape whatever age they are and will cover all sexual offences which can result in a pregnancy – for example, position of trust offences.