The press release issued by the Ministry of Justice on 19 January 2023.
Children born as a result of rape will be officially recognised as victims of crime and receive better support under changes announced by the government today.
It means England and Wales will be among the first countries in the world to enshrine in law that individuals born in these horrific circumstances should be treated as victims in their own right.
The government will amend its upcoming Victims Bill to make this change to clarify that these children are entitled to support from criminal justice agencies such as the police and courts.
At present, the lack of explicit reference to people born as a result of rape in the Victims’ Code makes it unnecessarily difficult for them to claim support and entitlements such as being provided with information about their case.
It follows a recommendation from the Justice Select Committee who fed back on the government’s draft bill in September 2022. The landmark piece of legislation seeks to put the needs and voices of victims firmly at the heart of the justice system and increase the accountability of agencies for the service they provide to them. It includes a new duty on the CPS to meet victims in certain cases before trial.
It is estimated that thousands of children are conceived from rape each year and the government is determined to ensure they receive the support they deserve.
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.
Since 2010 funding for victim support services has quadrupled as part of the government’s commitment to deliver better outcomes for victims and this change will provide these people with better access to the wide range of support all victims of crime should expect.
This includes making it easier to access therapy and counselling sessions. Such support will help deconstruct self-blame and shame, help victims come to terms with family issues and offer psychological guidance to develop coping mechanisms for processing difficult emotions.
The change will also provide greater recognition from support services, including from advocacy services, who can help with a range of issues such as alcohol and drug misuse and provide guidance on accessing education and housing benefit.
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.