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An incredible campaigner for women's rights has died and you might not even know her name

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Picture: PA Wire/PA Images

Jill Saward was an incredible activist, campaigning for the victims of sexual violence - she was also the first rape victim in the UK to waive her anonymity​.

In an incident in 1986, dubbed the Ealing Vicarage Rape, three men broke into Saward’s family home, drunk and high on drugs, while Saward, who was 21 at the time, was watching television with her boyfriend, David Kerr.

Her father, vicar Michael Saward answered the door and was threatened with a kitchen knife.

Two of the men repeatedly raped Jill at knifepoint and brutally attacked her boyfriend and father.

But just under a year later, the judge caused outrage when he said Jill’s trauma “had not been so great”, and gave one of the men more years for the burglary than the rape.

Jill suffered flashbacks and nightmares for three-and-a-half years following the attack, and came close to suicide three times.

Her identity was kept anonymous throughout the criminal trial, but she made the decision to write a memoir and speak publicly about what happened to her.

Jill went on to valiantly work as a case worker for a council’s domestic violence forum, and as a lobbyist for the rights of and support for rape victims. She campaigned to dispel the stigma surrounding rape to help victims not feel shame.

She also bravely spoke out about forgiving her attackers.

She died at the age of 51 after suffering a stroke. 

People have taken to Twitter to pay their condolences: 

 

 

 

 


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