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Woman conceived through rape wins award after campaign to convict birth father for 46-year-old crime

Woman conceived through rape wins award after campaign to convict birth father for 46-year-old crime

"I wanted the man who had done this brought to justice: for what he had done to my birth mother, for what he might have done to other children – and for what he had done, indirectly, to me."

Trigger warning: This story contains details of sexual assault that some readers may find distressing.

A 45-year-old conceived through rape has won a prestigious award for her contribution towards ending male violence against women. The woman — who can only be referred to as Daisy to protect the identity of her birth mother — campaigned for nine years to get her birth father, Carvel Bennett, prosecuted for raping her then 13-year-old birth mother nearly five decades ago. Thanks to Daisy's efforts, 74-year-old Bennett was sentenced to 11 years in jail after being convicted in July 2021 at Birmingham crown court. In recognition of her tireless commitment to hold her birth mother's rapist accountable, she was this month awarded the Emma Humphreys memorial prize, which is given to women who have "used the law to hold the state to account for violence against women."



 

According to The Guardian, Daisy was announced the winner of the award at a conference for the women-led volunteer organization, FiLiA, in Portsmouth on Sunday. She went public with her story after she had to battle with the police and other agencies for almost a decade to take action against the man who raped her birth mother. "My name is Daisy and I am an adoptee. As a child, I knew very little about my birth parents and their background. It was only as an adult that I was able to get hold of my adoption file and discovered the devastating truth in black and white: that I had been conceived by a rape. My birth mother, who was from a black British family, had been a child at the time, under the age of consent. Despite this, I learned that no action had been taken against the man that my birth mother had accused," she shared in a CrowdJustice campaign.



 

Although Daisy's birth mother named Bennett after she became pregnant after the rape, no action was taken against him by the authorities. Daisy got in touch with her birth mother after she turned 18 and met her for the very first time when she was 20. "It was clear that she had no interest, at that time, in persuading the police to re-open the case, having already been let down once – but I did. I wanted the man who had done this brought to justice: for what he had done to my birth mother, for what he might have done to other children – and for what he had done, indirectly, to me," she wrote.



 

"His abuse of my mother had an enormous impact on my own life, quite literally from the moment of my birth. Because of what he did, I was born to a birth mother who could not possibly keep me; I grew up in adoptive care; and I have had to come to terms as an adult with the painful story that pre-dates my birth," Daisy continued in her campaign. "I thought that the police would see this as an 'open and shut' case. What had happened to my birth mother was child sexual abuse, and was well-documented, even though no action had been taken at the time. Not only that, but I was effectively a walking 'crime scene': my DNA would be able to prove beyond doubt that it was this man who had conceived me."



 

However, police informed her that Bennett could not be prosecuted on the basis of her evidence since she was not the victim of the alleged rape. In a letter dated April 2, 2015, the professional standards department at West Midlands police said Daisy's complaint fell into the category of: "vexatious, oppressive or otherwise an abuse of process." But Daisy believes race was one of the reasons why it took so long to bring Bennett to justice. "I truly believe racism was a huge factor both in my birth mother's treatment in the mid-1970s, but also in my treatment by the authorities," she said. "I have been harmed directly by the perpetrator's actions. To be informed that my complaint is vexatious when a child sex offender is living out his retirement in the same town in which he committed a serious sexual offence against a child is shocking to me."



 

Ultimately, Daisy's birth mother decided to testify against Bennett and the rape conviction was secured. Addressing her being declared as the winner of the Emma Humphreys memorial prize, Daisy said: "It's a real privilege and an honour. There is still so much silence on the issue of rape conception. It appears to be one of the last taboos in relation to violence against women and girls. For those of us who were rape-conceived, it's a huge struggle to come to terms with your paternity and in turn one's sense of self and identity. We are left to carry the shame and stigma of the act of violence that created us."



 

Daisy is now campaigning for children conceived through rape to be legally recognised as secondary victims of the crime along with the primary victim, their mothers. She is also asking the authorities to consider victimless prosecutions in cases where the victim may be too traumatised to testify or may have died or disappeared, but where there is enough DNA evidence to convict the rapist.

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