Leader comment: Jill Saward is an inspiration

Jill Saward, the rape victim who campaigned for justice for victims,  has died aged 51. Picture: PA Wire

Jill Saward, the rape victim who campaigned for justice for victims, has died aged 51. Picture: PA Wire

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We all probably want to be the kind of person who would have the courage to do the right thing in difficult circumstances, regardless of the personal cost it would wreak. Most of us would fail that test, we do not all have that courage. But Jill Saward had exactly that kind of courage.

It seems simultaneously horrifying and nonsensical now that one of the perpetrators of the horrific sexual assault on Ms Saward during a burglary at an Ealing Vicarage in 1986 was sentenced to a longer jail term for the burglary than he was for the rape, but he was. And the judge said her trauma “had not been so great”. Quite rightly, that sparked outrage. Mr Justice Leonard was censured at the time and later apologised.

Despite this, in 1990 Jill Saward became the first rape victim in the UK to waive her anonymity as she started a life-long campaign to help the victims of sexual assault. She had a family life and could have lived quietly, but she put herself in the spotlight and worked tirelessly for both legal and social justice for survivors of rape and sexual violence.

One of her many notable successes was the barring of accused rapists from cross-examining their victims while representing themselves in court. She was also a sexual assault case worker and subsequently provided training to police forces across the country.

She was a woman that took a horrific violent event in her life and she made some good come out of it. Her response to the depraved actions of others was to dedicate 30 years to helping others.

She even left instructions for her organs to be donated after death. Jill Saward is truly an inspiration.

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