Daisy's story: The child born of rape now fighting for the law to recognise her as a victim

"Hi, my name is Daisy. My story began in the mid-70s. I was conceived as a result of my 29-year-old birth father raping my 13-year-old birth mother."

If that’s an extraordinary introduction, the story which follows is even more incredible.

Daisy was born in Birmingham, 47 years ago, to an underage teenage girl. And the trauma of what happened to her birth mother has followed her, her entire life.

“Birthdays really weighed heavily on me because that just marks the day I came into the world,” she told ITV News.

“No one was celebrating my arrival - I arrived in the world as evidence of a rape and a child that needed to go into the care system because of that.

“I was only 18 when I found out what had happened. And that is a lot to carry. I remember thinking: Do I look like him? Do I look like my birth father? Do I have the face of my birth mother's rapist?

“I represent the worst thing that's happened to her.”

At just seven days old, Daisy - who must remain anonymous to protect her birth mother's identity - went into foster care, and was eventually adopted.

Despite her birth mother reporting what had happened at the time, her rapist denied everything, and police in Birmingham took no action.

'I remember thinking: Do I have the face of my birth mother's rapist?'

For four decades, he continued his life as normal.

But Daisy became increasingly angry, and began lobbying officers to reopen the investigation.

“I have the DNA - I was walking proof that he had raped a child,” she said.

“My birth mother didn’t want to reopen that trauma, which I totally understand.

“And they wouldn’t open an investigation without the victim speaking up. And I don’t count.”

According to the law as it stands, children like Daisy who were born of rape are classed as an ‘aggravating factor’ of the attack, not as victims in their own right.

But she continued her campaign and her birth mother changed her mind, and with Daisy’s DNA providing irrefutable evidence, last year Carvel Bennett - Daisy’s biological father - was convicted of rape and jailed.

Carvel Bennett was jailed for rape in 2021 Credit: West Midlands Police

Now, she wants the law to be changed - so that children born of rape are recognised as victims.

"My whole life has been dictated by this act of rape, so I have no issue using the word victim," she added.

"My situation has led me to be adopted, which has its own trauma.

"It's led me to have a huge concern about whether my birth mother wants to meet me what I represent for her.

"My own sense of identity. There was a short time when I just thought, God, have I got this kind of bad gene?"

'To anybody that talks to me and feels that, well, what I'm saying is that my existence is a mistake? Yes. My birth mother was raped as a child. That shouldn't ever have happened'

One of the most complicated questions she has had to grapple with is the fact that without what happened, she would never have been born.

But her response is very simple.

“To anybody that talks to me and feels that, well, what I'm saying is that my existence is a mistake? Yes,” she said.

“My birth mother was raped as a child. That shouldn't ever have happened.

“It’s something a child should never have to face but if she'd had better support, maybe she would have decided on a termination. And if she had, I wouldn't be here. I just simply wouldn't exist.

“And there would be someone else sat here, doing this campaign.”

Daisy spoke to ITV News Central correspondent Charlotte Cross Credit: ITV News Central

She’s being supported by the Centre for Women’s Justice, which carried out a review of all available evidence - scant though it is.

They asked researchers at the University of Durham to analyse rape reports and pregnancy rates, with staggering results. They found between 2,080 and 3,356 children could have been born from rape in 2021 alone.

They also identified serious impacts which can last a lifetime. Some 85% of children born of rape reported to display developmental or behavioural issues later in life.

Meanwhile, there was evidence of a higher risk of abuse or neglect towards children born of rape, with both mothers and the children themselves suffering from poor mental health.

“Children born of rape need to be recognised as victims of crime,” said lawyer Kate Ellis, who has been working with Daisy at the Centre.

“We need to recognise the hidden harms that rape causes for children born as a result.

“Daisy’s case really highlighted a gap in the law, in that if a child who has been born of rape feels that they want to pursue a complaint in their own right, they currently have no legal basis upon which to ask police to investigate their complaint.”

Her campaign has already won the support of a number of MPs - including Birmingham Yardley MP and Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence, Jess Phillips.

“The direct victims of a crime like domestic abuse or sexual violence are not the only people who are affected by that crime,” she said.

“So we sought in the Domestic Abuse Bill to change the law so that children living with domestic abuse were considered victims. This is the natural next step to that.”

And in September, the Justice Select Committee of MPs agreed - recommending the government’s upcoming Victims Bill be changed to recognise children of rape as secondary victims.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said a formal response from the government would be published soon. 

“People born in these horrific circumstances rightfully deserve to feel supported at every stage of the justice system and have their voices heard by the police and courts,” they said.

“Our Victims’ Code already ensures they can be referred for support such as counselling or therapeutic services while being kept up to date on the progress of their case.

 “We thank the Justice Select Committee for their recommendation and will respond shortly.”

If the change does come, it would be a legacy Daisy said she could be proud of.

“I don’t have self-hate, I’m very proud of who I am. I’m extremely proud of what I’ve done,” she said.

“But I’m the living legacy of a rape - a rape that should never have happened, and the justice which should have happened 40-plus years ago.”