Protests over trans woman heading rape crisis centre The Times 19.05.21

The original article is here.

The appointment of a transgender woman to the female-only role as head of a rape crisis centre has prompted calls for an equalities investigation by activists who claim she has no legal right to the position.

Mridul Wadhwa, a former Scottish parliamentary SNP candidate, was appointed chief executive of Edinburgh Rape Crisis, a job that was advertised as reserved for a woman.

Feminist campaigners claim she has no gender recognition certificate and has not undergone gender reassignment surgery and so is not legally entitled to be considered a woman.

Wadhwa caused controversy last October when she was proposed as a candidate on the SNP’s all-women shortlist to contest the Stirling seat at this year’s Holyrood election.

She is reported to have left the party in December after MSPs overwhelmingly backed an amendment in Holyrood to allow survivors of rape and sexual assaults to pick the sex rather than the gender of the person examining them. She tweeted that she “could no longer call it home”.

The feminist campaign group For Women Scotland claimed that the SNP had broken the Equality Act by including a “male candidate” on the list.

Wadhwa’s appointment at the Edinburgh centre prompted a social media campaign urging people to write to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to request an investigation.

Wadhwa was formerly a manager at the Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre. When asked in an interview last year whether a male could be a successful rape crisis centre manager, she said: “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.”

Kellie-Jay Keen, of Standing for Women, said women had opened the Edinburgh centre in 1978. “ I doubt very much they ever thought their tireless campaigning would provide a seat for a male CEO. Surely this role should have been explicitly women only.”

Rape Crisis Scotland, which runs 17 member centres in the country, said they were “proud” to have Wadhwa “as a colleague within our movement”.

Sandy Brindley, chief executive, said: “Mridul Wadhwa brings to this role extensive experience working in the violence against women sector. All rape crisis centres in Scotland work within equality and employment law. There is a lot of misinformation and targeted harassment in relation to Mridul. We think this is unacceptable.”

After her appointment Wadhwa said: “As a passionate, loud and consistent advocate for the rights of trans women and black minority ethnic women, I look forward to working alongside my new colleagues to ensure that we provide inclusive and flexible support.”

 

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