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Mridul Wadhwa wants to “clean” women out of Edinburgh Rape Crisis history

On Tuesday 14 September, Mridul Wadhwa, the CEO of Edinburgh Rape Crisis, appeared at a virtual meeting in Sheffield titled, “Building Intersectional Inclusion in Rape Crisis Services”.

Wadhwa is a trans-identified male and arrived hot off the heels of a talk with “The Guilty Feminist” where Wadhwa controversially called female survivors of sexual violence “bigoted” and advised that they would have to “be challenged on your prejudices” and “reframe your trauma”. Feminist women were, therefore, keen to hear what would be said at this latest talk before women’s sector professionals working with victims and survivors of sexual and domestic abuse.

I hadn’t expected the content to be so blatantly aggressive towards the decades of work of feminist women in the field of male violence against women. After a wandering preamble about intersectionality, Wadhwa announced that Rape Crisis history was unclean.

ERCC [Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre] has been a trans inclusive space for a really long time.. so it had to really wash and clean its history of the perception of rape crisis centres not being inclusive of trans people.

This is a grim image indeed with horrific connotations. The Rape Crisis movement built in the 1970s by radical feminist women was a political act to challenge the violence of men and provide women with female-only space for safe recovery. Yet here was a trans-identified man characterising that political aim as filthy and declaring the intention to “cleanse” that space of those women. Declaring an intention to remove female people from women’s history is a politically aggressive and supremely arrogant act by Wadhwa.

There is a breath-taking cruelty in the framing of women who have been raped as “privileged”

Though the talk kept returning to intersectionality, frequently conflating the oppressions faced by women of colour with those of trans identified men, it became blatantly clear that Wadhwa had a weighty agenda hidden within the rambling intersectionality narrative. The motive of this talk revealed itself as persuading, even manipulating, women’s service providers to commit to blanket inclusion of trans identified males into women’s services. Not only this, but to ensure that the needs of those males were prioritised above female victims of male violence. As Wadhwa informed the audience:

Being really radical in our inclusion of those who are marginalised does not discriminate against those who have relative privilege in our society.

There is a breath-taking cruelty in the framing of women who have been raped as “privileged” and, as Wadhwa went on to stress, that some (meaning trans identified men) are “more marginalised”. The blithe dismissal of women who have been raped or abused was a recurring theme of the talk. What was also sensationally revealed is that women in Scotland are self-excluding from Rape Crisis from fear of encountering male people who identify as trans. As Wadhwa explained:

You have large groups of survivors, some are not using our services because they see us as trans inclusive and feeling that they may be exposed to… er… to an issue that they are not prepared to deal with.

Whilst there is clear obfuscation by Wadhwa about the “issue” survivors are concerned about, it is abundantly clear that what those women who have been raped wish to avoid, is a man, however that man may identify. They are tragically holding back from the help and the services they desperately need because of this CEO and the decisions made about including trans-identified men in a service for female survivors of sexual violence.

The talk also suggested again that women must be re-educated if they hold a view about sex and identity:

We have to learn to be not transphobic, because our society is transphobic.

No service should withhold help from women who are not politically in line

In a world where feminist women have learned that any mention of the female body is “transphobic”, it is not unusual to see this kind of rhetoric expressed without qualification. But to suggest that women who have just been subjected to an act of sexual violence must first “learn” to respect the identity choices of male people, before they can receive help after a male person has raped them, is callous and vicious in the extreme. No service for women should withhold help from women who are not “nice”, “kind” or ideologically or politically in line with those providing those services. When a woman has been raped, it is not the time to accuse her of “wrong think”.

Wadhwa smeared and attacked women who had organised a peaceful protest in Scotland against attacks on women’s rights by the Scottish Parliament. Wadhwa insisted:

But more and more of them exposing themselves as being on the right and being very comfortable associating with fascists.

This was a clear attempt to discredit any woman, the majority of whom are socialist, who disagree with extreme gender ideology. Many of those women are feeling politically distanced from their own left-wing roots due to the misogyny of left-wing men who target them as “TERFs”. This term is the new way of calling women “bitch” under the guise of being “progressive”. Standing up for your rights as women, as part of the feminist movement, is not fascism and we all know it. The cry of “Women won’t wheesht” has become the feminist statement of defiance against those who would silence us.

When the dialogue moved on to how raped women must refer to their rapist, Wadhwa was again confusing in expression, saying:

If you have a trans person on your case load or if somebody has experienced sexual violence from someone with a protected characteristic and they are talking about them in a stereotypical way, um… as perpetrators and then stereotyping the community.

To decipher, what is being asked of female victims here is that they do not refer to their perpetrator as male if they identify as female. To tell women how to speak about the man who has raped them is a truly horrific thing to do.

What women are now asking is, how long can Wadhwa continue deter women from accessing the services they need? Women built Rape Crisis. Our movement doesn’t need “cleaning” it’s Rape Crisis that needs to get their house in order, and they should start with Mridul Wadhwa.

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