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'My daughter had to share a classroom with her rapist'

From BBC - October 8, 2017

Rachel's daughter was raped by a boy at her school. He was arrested, bailed, and put back in his normal lessons, alongside his victim, the following day.

"Somebody who's been raped is already in a terrible place, but to be expected to be back in the same space as the rapist is just terrible," she told the Victoria Derbyshire programme. "It's re-traumatising - it's just a terrible thing to do to a rape victim."

The government says it is writing interim guidelines for schools to prevent schoolchildren being forced to share classes with pupils who have raped or sexually assaulted them, but campaigners say it is taking too long.

Rachel - not her real name - said her daughter's anonymity was compromised at an early stage - which made life especially difficult.

"Being in the same classroom as the person that's raped you is difficult enough, but when people in that room know what's happened and they are watching how you cope being in the same room as the rapist - that's just awful," she explained.

"It's a whole extra layer of stress, knowing that these people are watching you - it's just vile. It's voyeurism gone mad."

Withdrawing from school

Rachel said the school seemed to have no policy in place for the situation and dealt with it "extremely badly". She had to instigate a meeting and, despite her efforts, she says, they did not prioritise her daughter's needs.

"They were very keen to protect his right to an education, but seemed to give no consideration at all to her rights as a rape victim and somehow or other they just did not understand what it would do to a rape victim to be expected to be in the same space as the rapist," she said.

Her daughter started to absent herself from lessons where she might see him, before gradually withdrawing herself from school entirely.

The issue was highlighted in a report by the Commons Women and Equalities Committee in 2016, which exposed the widespread incidence of sexual violence and harassment in England's schools.

According to BBC research, 5,500 sexual offences were reported to the police as having taken place in UK schools over a three-year period to July 2015, including 600 rapes.

Last month, lawyers who had been contacted by victims, wrote to Education Secretary Justine Greening, accusing her of being in breach of her statutory duty under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 which requires her to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination against girls in school and advance equality of opportunity.

Her department has replied saying it is drafting interim guidance.

'Patchwork approach'

'Let down'

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