Children born as a result of a rape will officially be recognised as victims of crime under Government plans.
England and Wales are thought to be among the first countries in the world to extend the legal definition of a victim to include people born from rape, with the changes due to be made to the forthcoming Victims Bill, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.
Research by academics for the Centre for Women’s Justice (CWJ) estimated that more than 3,000 children could have been conceived after rape in the two nations in 2021.
The move follows calls from campaigners to change the law and MPs sitting on the Commons Justice Committee who recommended amendments to the draft Bill.
The changes will make clear that children conceived from rape are entitled to access information about their case and get support from the courts, police and other bodies in the criminal justice system – something which is currently “unnecessarily difficult” to do amid a lack of clear guidance.
The measures apply at any age and cover all sexual offences which can result in pregnancy, according to officials.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab 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.”
A woman known as Daisy – who the CWJ said was born as a result of a rape in the 1970s and whose birth father was brought to justice in 2021 – led the calls for the “landmark” change.
Kate Ellis, the woman’s legal representative at the CWJ, said her campaign had been “extraordinary”, adding: “Motivated by her own experiences, she has set in motion a vital conversation about the hidden harms suffered by children who are born as the result of a sexual crime.
“We hope that this change in the law will not only ensure support for people born of rape who contact the police – but also enable them to play a crucial role in supporting a police investigation.
“Sometimes, as in ‘Daisy’s’ case, a child who has been conceived by rape may even provide a crucial DNA link that enables the perpetrator to be convicted, so it is extremely important that they are fully supported to engage with a police investigation.”