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JK Rowling launches support center for women victims of sexual violence | JK Rowling

JK Rowling is funding a new support and counseling service for survivors of sexual violence in Edinburgh.

The author, who wrote about her own experience as a survivor of sexual assault, is setting up the new center, called Beira’s Place, because she believes there is an ‘unmet need for women’ in the area of Lothians.

The new project, which will be run by two experienced rape crisis support specialists, Isabelle Kerr and Susan Domminney, follows a row over the role of transgender women in rape crisis services in Scotland.

In line with a longstanding policy of trans inclusion by the country’s official network, the Edinburgh Rape Support Center has been run by a trans woman, Mridul Wadhwa, since May 2021.

Rowling said: “As a sexual assault survivor myself, I know how important it is for survivors to have the opportunity to receive female-centred, female-delivered care at such a vulnerable time. “

Critics of Scotland’s gender recognition changes, which will lead to a final PSM vote next week on a bill to introduce new self-declaration rules for trans people, say the nomination has deterred some female survivors of male sexual violence to use the Edinburgh centre.

Rowling has become a leading figure among gender-sensitive feminists, who argue the changes are eroding hard-won protections for women.

Kerr said sexual offenses “are gender-based crimes that are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men and disproportionately suffered by women.”

She added, “Beira’s Place recognizes that effective sexual violence services must be independent, needs-based and provide responsive, women-centered services so that they are free from the pressure of current political agendas.

Rape crisis experts who support the Scottish Government’s gender recognition changes said Beira’s Place would provide much needed additional benefits as existing services were overwhelmed with new cases. Under the Equality Act, services that exclude trans women are lawful if they are proportionate and legitimate.

Edinburgh’s rape crisis center has had to close its books to new cases, with some existing clients having to wait up to 18 months for help. Beira’s Place, which will provide services to women across Lothians, is due to start taking cases in early 2023 but will not be registered as a charity so is not regulated by the health commission charity.

“Rape support services across Scotland are seeing huge demand for their services. This demand, combined with a lack of sustainable funding, is leading to some centers facing very difficult waiting lists,” said Sandy Brindley, chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland.

“In this demanding context, we of course welcome any new service that has rigorous safeguarding procedures in place and is staffed by highly qualified professionals to support victims of sexual violence.

Brindley added: “It is crucial that the vital support offered by rape crisis centers is available to trans and non-binary people. All rape services in Scotland provide support to trans women and have done so for 15 years. There has not been a single incident where anyone has abused this.

theguardian Gt

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