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Jill Saward, campaigner against sexual violence, dies at 51

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/01/2017
FILE - This June 14, 1997 file photo shows Jill Saward who has died aged 51. Jill Saward, a survivor of rape who became a powerful British campaigner against sexual violence, died Thursday Jan. 5, 2017 in central England, after suffering a stroke, Saward's family said. (PA via AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - This June 14, 1997 file photo shows Jill Saward who has died aged 51. Jill Saward, a survivor of rape who became a powerful British campaigner against sexual violence, died Thursday Jan. 5, 2017 in central England, after suffering a stroke, Saward's family said. (PA via AP, File)

LONDON — Jill Saward, a survivor of rape who became a powerful British campaigner against sexual violence, has died. She was 51.

Saward's family said she died Thursday at a hospital in Wolverhampton, central England, after suffering a stroke on Tuesday.

Saward, the daughter of an Anglican minister, was 21 when she was raped by men who broke into her father's London vicarage in 1986.

The rapists were convicted, but the judge said he was lenient in sentencing because Saward's trauma "had not been so great." He gave the perpetrators longer sentences for burglary than for rape, triggering strong criticism.

Saward waived her legal right to anonymity and wrote a book, "Rape: My Story." She went on to make frequent media appearances and advised police and judges in dealing with sexual assault cases.

She co-founded the group Jurors Understanding Rape Is Essential Standard (JURIES) to campaign for mandatory trial briefings about myths and stereotypes about sexual violence.

British Attorney General Jeremy Wright said Saward's "tireless campaigning opened the eyes of many politicians."

In a statement, Saward's family said she had "dedicated the past 30 years of her life to helping other people" — and had continued to help by becoming an organ donor.

Saward is survived by her husband, Gavin Drake, and their three sons.

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