Ealing Vicarage Rape Victim Dies
Jill Saward campaigned on issue of sexual violence after attack in 1986
Jill Saward, has been described as ‘courageous and pioneering’ following her premature death from a stroke aged 51 today (5 January).
She became a ‘tireless’ campaigner on the issue of sexual assault after she became the victim of rape in Ealing in March 1986.
The mother of three, who later moved to Staffordshire, was 21 when she was assaulted during a burglary at her father’s vicarage at St. Mary's. Her father and her then boyfriend, David Kerr, were severely beaten by four intruders with and left with fractured skulls. Jill Saward was taken to an upstairs bedroom and repeatedly raped by two of the men.
She became the first victim of rape in the UK to waive her right to anonymity and dedicated much of the rest of her life to getting the way the system handled rape cases changed. The, Mr Justice Leonard, the judge in the original case caused controversy by stating that her ‘trauma had not being so great’ and giving a longer sentence to one of the intruders who had only been convicted of burglary. He was censured for his remarks and later apologised.
Her ordeal left Jill Saward suicidal and suffering for post-traumatic stress disorder but she resolved to change the law on rape and improve victim support. Among her successes was the ending of the right of accused rapists to cross-examine their alleged victims.
She also forgave her attackers saying that forgiveness gave her liberation and the freedom to move on.
Rape Crisis England & Wales issued a statement after her death saying , "Jill Saward was a good friend and valued supporter of the Rape Crisis movement for three decades. Waiving her right to lifelong anonymity, she campaigned tirelessly for both legal and social justice for victims and survivors of rape and sexual violence. Jill was able to step outside of her own harrowing experience to highlight the needs and rights of all those impacted by sexual violence. Most recently, she was focussing on the need to educate jurors at rape trials through the JURIES campaign, which she co-founded. Jill was courageous, pioneering and an inspiration. She will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time."
January 5, 2017