JK Rowling launches sexual violence support service for women
Author JK Rowling has founded a new support service to help meet an “unmet need” for women who have experienced sexual violence.
Beira’s Place in Edinburgh will be a support and advocacy service for women in the Lothians aged 16 and over who have experienced sexual violence or abuse at any time in their lives.
Organisers said the service, which will be free, has been set up in response to demand from female survivors for a women-only service, as one is currently not available in the area.
As well as Ms Rowling, the board of directors includes former prison governor Rhona Hotchkiss, previous Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, GP Margaret McCartney, and director of For Women Scotland, Susan Smith.
Ms Rowling, who is also the funder of Beira’s Place, said: “I founded Beira’s Place to provide what I believe is currently an unmet need for women in the Lothians area.
“As a survivor of sexual assault myself, I know how important it is that survivors have the option of women-centred and women-delivered care at such a vulnerable time.
“Beira’s Place will offer an increase in capacity for services in the area and will, I hope, enable more women to process and recover from their trauma.”
The launch comes days before next week’s final vote on the Scottish Government’s plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, of which Ms Rowling has been an outspoken critic.
The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, currently working its way through Holyrood, proposes to remove the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria as a condition of acquiring a gender recognition certificate.
Concerns have been raised in recent years about the impact the Bill could have on single-sex spaces, with some critics saying it could put women at risk – a charge the Scottish Government has repeatedly denied.
Beira’s Place will be run by a paid staff of experienced support workers, headed by chief executive Isabelle Kerr and deputy chief executive Susan Domminney, who between them have 32 years of experience running Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis.
Ms Kerr said: “Violence against women and girls is an issue that crosses all cultures, classes, and religions.
“These are gendered crimes that are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men and disproportionately experienced by women.
“Beira’s Place recognises that effective sexual violence services must be independent, needs-led, and provide responsive, women-centred services so that they are free from the pressure of current political agendas.
“We are committed to ensuring that our service is free, confidential, and accessible to women survivors who may need it.”
Beira’s Place is named after Beira, the Scottish goddess of winter.
Explaining why the board chose the name, Ms Rowling said: “Beira rules over the dark part of the year, handing over to her sister, Bride, when summer comes again.
“Beira represents female wisdom, power, and regeneration.
“Hers is a strength that endures during the difficult times, but her myth contains the promise that they will not last forever.”
Beira’s Place is not a charity and will not rely on donations.Published: by Radio NewsHub