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London’s rape victim cum assault campaigner dies

A woman Jill Saward, who became a sexual assault crusader after she was raped during a burglary at her father’s vicarage, London in 1986 has died.

Saward, then 21, was sexually assaulted by two men in Ealing, west London. Her boyfriend and father Michael were severely beaten.

At the end of the trial of her rapists, the judge said her trauma “had not been so great”, sparking outrage.

Record has it that that subject, who died at 51, was the first rape victim in the UK to waive her anonymity.

Ms Saward, who was also known by her married name Drake, had three sons and lived with husband Gavin in Hednesford, Staffordshire. She suffered a stroke.

In 1990, she published her memoir, Rape: My Story.

Four men broke into the vicarage home of Michael Saward in March 1986.

In 1994, she set up a help group for victims and their families, and also became a counsellor.
Among the causes she successfully campaigned for was the barring of accused rapists from cross-examining victims while representing themselves in court.

Ms Saward believed forgiveness was “very important”.

“They’d destroyed enough, I didn’t want them to destroy anything else. Forgiveness gave me that liberation, that freedom, to move on,” she said.

In 1998, she came face to face with a member of the gang who devastated her life – but did not rape her – and told him: “You don’t need to say sorry.”

Ms Saward, who was born in Liverpool, spoke many times on TV and radio about rape and forgiveness, and in July 2008 she stood for election to Parliament against then shadow home secretary David Davis.

In 2012 she welcomed proposals for tougher sentences on sex offence offenders.

And in 2015, she called a suggestion by MPs for sex crime suspects to be granted anonymity “insulting”.

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