Ministry of Justice
Law to recognise children born as a result of rape as victims for the first time
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 (19 January 2023).
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.
Notes to editors
- Where persons born as a result of rape have suffered harm, they are already eligible to claim Victims’ Code entitlements.
- However, the government recognises that the current Code does not explicitly reference them or specify which entitlements they may reasonably claim, which can mean in practice some people in these circumstances are not always recognised as victims.
- That is why the government has accepted the Justice Select Committee recommendation to recognise a person born as a result of rape in the Victims Bill and in the new Code.
- A study by the Centre for Women’s Justice estimates that potentially thousands of children are being conceived in rape each year.
- The Victims Bill aims to put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. The Bill will help victims to have confidence that there is the right support available and that if they report crime, the criminal justice system will treat them in the way they should rightly expect.
- The government is unaware of any other country bringing forward the change and its work on the amend suggests we are among the first countries to enshrine this in law.
- The government has committed to quadrupling funding for victim support services by 2025 compared to 2010, including investment to increase the number of Independent Sexual Violence Advisors and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors by 300 to over 1,000 by 2024/25.
- More information can be found on GOV.UK: Plans to put victims back at the centre of justice system published - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
- Please see the full response to the pre-legislative scrutiny on the Parliament website: Pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Victims Bill - Committees - UK Parliament
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