Sammy Woodhouse

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Sammy Woodhouse
Bornc. 1985 (age 33–34)
Known forActivism against child sexual abuse
Notable work
Just A Child: Britain's Biggest Child Abuse Scandal Exposed
Children2

Sammy Woodhouse (born c. 1985)[1] is an English activist against child sexual abuse. She was a victim of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal,[2] which she helped expose by giving an anonymous interview to Andrew Norfolk of The Times.[3] Woodhouse has actively supported pardoning child sexual abuse victims for crimes they were coerced into committing.

Childhood and abuse[edit]

Sammy Woodhouse grew up with her two older sisters in Rotherham. Her family had a caravan in Cleethorpes. Woodhouse competed with her dance team until it was disbanded.[1][4]

When she was 14 years old, Woodhouse was groomed by 24-year-old child-grooming gang leader Arshid Hussain, who had been married and had two children. They started having sex a month after they met. Woodhouse was subsequently raped, assaulted, and beaten on a daily basis. According to her, Hussain would threaten her with a gun and threaten to kill her family. Woodhouse said that Hussain colluded with some police officers and that she was charged with crimes she and Hussein committed jointly. For example, when she turned fifteen, Hussain forced her to rob a post office. The police raided Hussain's house a few days later, while he and Woodhouse were in bed. Hussain was not arrested, but Woodhouse was charged with possessing a baton.[1][4][5] A few months later, Hussain made Woodhouse fight a girl, and Woodhouse was convicted of assault.[6]

Woodhouse became pregnant twice when she was fifteen years old; Hussain pressured her to have an abortion the first time. Woodhouse's mother died several days after Hussain was injured badly in a gang incident. She missed much of her education and had a criminal record, so began working as a model, stripper and lap dancer. After another abusive relationship, Woodhouse moved back to live with Hussain, who was in a wheelchair, with her second son. However, his family wanted to take her older son so she fled again.[1][4][5]

Woodhouse kept being abused for years, including an assault by Hussain in public, which was dismissed by the police, and her flat was set on fire. Her family members had to move because they were also continuously threatened and terrorized. When she understood in 2012 that she had been groomed, Woodhouse developed depression, suicidal thoughts and an eating disorder.[1][4][5]

Woodhouse anonymously approached The Times in 2013, leading to the Jay inquiry which played a crucial part in exposing the scale and nature of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.[7] The report by social worker Alexis Jay found that more than 1400 children were victims of child sexual abuse in Rotherham between 1997 and 2013.[1] Woodhouse has said that she was shocked when she learned the number of victims.[1]

Hussain was convicted of multiple crimes, including serial rape and abduction of multiple girls, and was jailed for 35 years.[2][3]

In March 2017, Woodhouse revealed her name on a BBC programme.[5] In mid-2017, Woodhouse was one of hundreds of child sexual abuse victims who were initially denied compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.[2]

Woodhouse's son became involved in crime and drugs, and she attempted to place him in care. According to Woodhouse, Rotherham City Council invited Hussain to meet their son despite his conviction for rape.[4]

Activism[edit]

Woodhouse conducts speaking events at schools and elsewhere, explaining to teenagers, the police and social workers how to recognise that someone is being groomed.[4]

Woodhouse wrote a book, Just a Child: Britain's Biggest Child Abuse Scandal Exposed, which was released in April 2018.[8][9]

In November 2018, over the first three days, more than three hundred thousand people signed a petition by Woodhouse and Labour MP Louise Haigh, which called for the amendment of the Children Act 1989 to "ban any male with a child conceived by rape from applying for access/rights".[3][4][8][10][11][12]

This story is about myself, about my son, about the man that raped me, and about the fact that Rotherham Council have offered him to apply for parental rights for my child.

— Sammy Woodhouse, a viral video[8]

Sammy's Law[edit]

Woodhouse supports Sammy's Law, a bill named after her, which would pardon child sexual abuse victims for crimes they were coerced into committing; the bill would also remove the crimes committed by the children from their criminal records. The bill was supported by Vera Baird, the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, by Alan Billings, the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, by Anne Longfield, the Children's Commissioner for England, and by Simon Bailey, the Chief Constable of the Norfolk Constabulary, among several other chief constables and crime commissioners.[13][14][15][6] Woodhouse has met with Conservative MP Victoria Atkins.[6]

In 2018, a High Court action was won by Woodhouse and two other women with juvenile offence records that are provided by the Disclosure and Barring Service. They were represented by solicitor Harriet Wistrich. In 2019, the government said that it would appeal the decision. According to Woodhouse, the government has "done nothing" to tackle the issue.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Woman abused by Rotherham gang leader speaks". BBC News. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Halliday, Josh (11 September 2017). "Compensation body told Rotherham abuse victim she 'consented'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Norfolk, Andrew (28 November 2018). "Rotherham rape victim reveals new care scandal". The Times. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Thomson, Alice (1 December 2018). "Sammy Woodhouse: 'He was Prince Charming. When he raped me, I felt like it was my fault'". The Times. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Woodhouse, Sammy (1 April 2017). "Sammy Woodhouse on the Rotherham abuse scandal: 'Girls speaking out has changed things'". The Guardian (Interview). Interviewed by Emine Saner. Rotherham. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  6. ^ a b c d Norfolk, Andrew (18 March 2019). "Child sex abuse survivors claim ministers are still punishing them". The Times. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  7. ^ "The Times view on Sammy Woodhouse and the Rotherham care scandal". The Times. 28 November 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b c "Rapist given chance to see his victim's child by local authority". The Daily Telegraph. 27 November 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  9. ^ Dennison, Gareth (23 March 2018). "Rotherham rape gang survivor Sammy Woodhouse releases book about her ordeal". The Rotherham Advertiser. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  10. ^ "'Rapist rights' petition hits 200,000". BBC News. 29 November 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Sammy Woodhouse: Rotherham 'rapist offered role in child's life'". BBC News. 28 November 2018. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  12. ^ Norfolk, Andrew (27 November 2018). "Jailed rapist given chance to see his victim's child". The Times. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  13. ^ Halliday, Josh (3 October 2017). "Police back 'Sammy's law' to pardon crimes of grooming victims". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  14. ^ Halliday, Josh (8 October 2017). "Top police officer backs 'Sammy's law' pardons for grooming victims". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Police chiefs back 'Sammy's Law' appeal". BBC News. 2 October 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2018.

External links[edit]