The parental rights of a rapist

Published on 23 Oct

Recently in the news was a headline of a rapist who won joint custody of the victim’s child and was ordered to be added to the birth certificate after a DNA paternity test revealed he was the child’s biological father.

As a DNA testing company who often deals with issues of Parental Responsibility, this posed a question to us: “If a woman falls pregnant as a result of rape, does the father have any parental rights?”. The perhaps obvious and moral answer would be no. However, their are a number of issues that must be considered.

In UK law, every father has the right to know his biological children and vice versa. Particularly, if the rapist is in fact the husband of the victim, he may be able to legally seek Parental Responsibility for the child, forcing the victim to raise a child with the man who raped her and continuing her trauma.

For some, the uncertainty in UK law regarding rape-related pregnancies and parental rights may influence the victims decision to abort the baby to relieve herself of communication with the father. For others, religious views may rule out the option of abortion.

Although UK law presumes that a father should have parental rights to his biological children, this should not be absolute. We must consider the context in which the child has been conceived and have more clarity upon UK laws regarding rape-related pregnancies and parental rights. We must protect rape victims and give them the means in which to allow them to make an informed decision.

For more information please view our original article at

Share this: