A Fox In The Hen House

When victims of rape are used as a tool for male validation

Billy Connolly once said that the desire to be a politician should bar someone for life from ever becoming one. The same could be said about any man who wants to work at a service for women traumatised by male violence.

Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre has just appointed its new CEO. He’s a man.

In a tweet that has since been deleted, ERCC announced that Mridul Wadhwa has been given their top job.

Mridul Wadhwa is a trans-identified male. He has no gender recognition certificate so, not only is he biologically male, he’s also legally male.

He was formerly the manager of Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre, a job he appears to have secured by lying about his sex.

He claimed that ‘no one asked’. But there was a whole section on the application form.

In this 2019 interview with Fox Fisher, Wadhwa admits he probably would not have been employed at Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre had he been honest about his sex. He also claims that there was ‘disbelief’ when he finally ‘came out’ to his colleagues. It obviously never crossed his mind that perhaps the women at the centre were nervous of offending him and felt compelled to play along.

Wadhwa has been the subject of controversy and was often in the news over the past year (we’ve reported on him twice). He had political aspirations and, last October, took up a place on an SNP all-women shortlist. (Of course he had no qualms about stealing an opportunity intended for women.) He then abandoned the SNP a few months later to join the Green Party.

So perhaps Forth Valley didn’t ask and honestly did not know that they were employing a male. But ERCC knew. They could not have been in any doubt.

Below is the job application form (which has been removed from the website since this screenshot was taken).

The job was advertised under Schedule 9 Part 1 of the Equality Act 2010 and the form clearly states that only women need apply. But ERCC appointed a male. A male that concealed his sex to get a job working with traumatised rape victims.

Last December MSPs voted in favour of an amendment that allows rape and sexual assault survivors to choose the sex, as opposed to the gender, of the clinician who examines them.

The original wording of the Forensic Medical Services Bill allowed that “Medical examination be carried out by a registered medical practitioner of a gender specified by the person”. The distinction is crucial because gender, unlike sex, has no clear definition in law and this wording would have allowed trans identified males to be included in the pool from which female clinicians are drawn.

However, Labour MSP, Johann Lamont, moved an amendment to the bill to change the wording to sex. Though it should never have been necessary, thankfully, MSPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the amendment.

Guess who wasn’t in favour of replacing ‘gender’ with ‘sex’? Wadhwa, the manager of a rape crisis centre, doesn’t believe that the women traumatised by male sexual violence have the right to be examined by a female clinician.

Indeed, he was so incensed by SNP MSPs voting for Lamont’s amendment, he ran away to join the Green Party.

But this shouldn’t come as a surprise. In December 2015 Wadhwa addressed a Women and Equalities Committee inquiry about transgender equality.

The inquiry discussed the single-sex provisions allowed under the Equality Act 2010. [See pages 32-33 of the subsequent report.] It examined the provision which allows employers to stipulate that a post is only open to individuals with a particular protected characteristic if it constitutes a ‘genuine occupational requirement’. The need for rape crisis services to employ only female staff was cited as a specific example. Wadhwa protested this provision as discriminatory to transwomen.

I genuinely believe that there is no space for it in the gender-based violence sector and that it has no place in violence against women work. I was unaware of its existence until a few weeks ago… I am disappointed to think that someone has the right to refuse work to me and others like me in my sector just because they think that I might not be a woman.

Not only does Wadhwa fail to express any empathy or concern for the women using ‘gender-based violence sector’ services, he’s also woefully ignorant about the legislation which affects them. He openly admits he was unaware of the single-sex provisions allowed by the Equality Act 2010.

In this series of tweets dating from January 2020, Wadhwa again demonstrates his ignorance of the legislation which has a direct bearing on women’s services. At this time he’d been working within rape crisis centres for six years.

In May 2019 Wadhwa was interviewed by The Student. He had the audacity to tell them that a man could not be a successful rape crisis centre manager.

I don’t think men are ready to go out and set up services of this nature. Women’s aid organisations and rape crisis centres have been set up with the blood, sweat, and tears of women. It’s about the women’s experience of sexual violence. Our workforce is reserved for women only.

How bloody dare he?

Either he’s genuinely delusional or he’s LARPing womanhood and using traumatised women as validation. Whichever it is, he shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a service for women who have suffered male violence. Shame on everyone at ERCC responsible for his appointment.

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