The man-made crisis at Edinburgh Rape Crisis

Two threads on Mridal Wadhwa

It looks like Vichy Feminist podcast The Guilty Feminist may have accidentally committed some actual feminism by interviewing Mridul Wadhwa. The hashtag #AskRapeCrisisScotland has been trending all day and is full of women angrily defending their right to ask for a female-only service when they are recovering from trauma.

It’s worth reading Sarah’s whole thread which I reproduce in part here.

Get set. Go!

Mridal Wadhwa runs the Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre (is now CEO of Edinburgh RCC) in Scotland and identifies as a woman.

Here he is gaily admitting to Fox Fisher that he applied for the job and didn’t disclose he was a man (2min20secs). It’s a revealing moment.

Most women get involved in Rape Crisis because of personal experience. MW, however, uses the moment to boast about passing.

A Mumsnetter archived some tweets that he apparently later deleted from Jan 2020, stating he didn’t disclose his biological sex to the Rape Crisis Centre and boasts of his ignorance of the Equality Act; legislation that he should be fully familiar with.

So what kind of leader is he? MW was interviewed in April 2019 by The Student Newspaper about his work.

In the interview MW is quoted as saying that orgasm during rape is a myth, whilst at the same time implying it is indeed a real phenomenon. How exactly does he think having this discussion helps rape victims?

MW also spends quite a bit of time in the interview debating whether women lie about rape and sexual assault, and comes to the conclusion that we shouldn’t try ‘to dig holes in people’s stories’.

Here he sort of claims that the truth doesn’t matter, and implies that service users won’t be fully believed.

MW states that no one would abuse self-declaration, a line he wants us to think he has crossed himself, and likens the fear about this to ‘false allegations of rape’. Must be a laugh a minute to be around when your world has just fallen apart.

Oh and also, the centre, under his leadership, offers training around gender and pornography. I’d love to see the content of those courses. Do women who have been raped really need to learn about gender identity? I think not. Do they need to learn about the harmful effects of pornography? Possibly. Like I say, I’d love to see the content of those courses. MW has also campaigned for the SNP. Here he is in May 2018, openly talking about his gender identity.

In April 2018 MW was interviewed about reform of the GRA. At that time he was Rape Crisis Scotland’s Training and Volunteer Coordinator and, again, publicly speaking about his gender identity.

Sally Brindley, the Chief Executive of Rape Crisis Scotland, is also quoted in the article (though not a direct quote). So the likelihood that women at the Rape Crisis Centre didn’t know he was a man is … um … coming in at … let’s see … close to zero.

The second thread is by Doctor Jess Taylor.

Over the years, as @SebastianPott10 rightly pointed out - many of us have worked with women who have been abused & raped with all sorts of views, politics, religions, beliefs, biases and perspectives. It’s not our place during trauma-informed sexual violence support to ‘educate’.

It is of concern to me that any rape centre would take the view that their clients who access their services at a time of crisis and trauma, would need politically re-educating so they agree with the views of the CEO and centre policies. This isn’t person-centred working.

The priority, and primary focus, should be their own journey, trauma, experiences, processes and practical issues after they have been raped. It’s scary to hear someone say that women subjected to rape who want a female-only space are bigots who need re-educating during therapy.

In the rape centre I managed, we had mainly female therapists, but we did have two male therapists. We always let clients choose who they saw, and we had the men on at certain times (Tuesday evenings) so the rest of the time, it was generally a female space and women knew that. I worked with those guys for years, one of them I trained from scratch. They were excellent. But I also wholly acknowledged that our clients came first, and if they didn’t want to talk to a man, or see a man, in our rape centre - that was my priority. And the guys accepted that.

The reason they accepted it, despite it possibly coming across as a hurtful, biased view from these women who didn’t want to even look at a man in our centre - was because they were trauma-informed, client-centred, understanding therapists who knew to put the client first.

So, to return to the original point, pushing a political view on to a woman at a time of profound trauma and crisis is not only inappropriate, unethical and unprofessional - but it’s selfish. It’s just selfish. That’s how it came across. No matter the views of the therapist, it is completely inappropriate to push religious, political or cultural views on to the client during sessions. Ever. This is basic training, which I would expect them to know and prioritise at all times.

It really is no surprise to me that the pushing of these views came to the doorstep of women and girls first. Socially we are constructed as easier to control and manipulate, easier to guilt trip and push into caring about issues instead of putting ourselves first.

That’s one of the reasons people are so immensely angry at the pushback from women and feminists who will not bend on the provision and purpose of female-only spaces for women subjected to male violence. Because we were supposed to bend. We were supposed to be easy to persuade. It’s the age-old process that we’ve seen in every wave of feminism, which reframes women who centre women and women’s rights as evil, dangerous, nasty, disgusting, witches, bullies, dykes, loud, over-opinionated, stupid and unlikeable.

It’s happened over and over again.

We shouldn’t be scared of it, you know. It hasn’t worked, historically. We’ve pushed through the ridicule and the mistreatment and still made massive progress even whilst people misrepresent us and lie. Ironically, especially as this is all about gender roles, women refusing to bend or capitulate to a view or to men’s expectations makes people angry because it breaks gender norms. Women are supposed to nurture and accommodate - when we don’t, people are livid.

As these issues have continued in the last 5 years, I’ve literally gotten to the point where I’ve stopped caring what I’m called or accused of. I’m absolutely proud to be woman-centred, and to work in that way at all times. Women deserve leaders and academics who prioritise them.

Women have had enough of being told what to think, and what beliefs they must accept, and who they must be kind to, and what language they must use - especially as this isn’t happening to equivalent male services.

Women are not bigots for needing and wanting female spaces.