JK Rowling opens Beira's Place, 'woman-only' sexual violence support service in Edinburgh

Harry Potter author JK Rowling opens ‘woman-only’ sexual violence support service in Edinburgh
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JK Rowling has opened a new ‘woman-only’ sexual violence support service in Edinburgh which will not cater for trans women. Beira’s Place will offer support and advocacy to women in the Lothian region, aged 16 and over, who have experienced sexual violence or abuse at any time in their lives.

The Harry Potter author, who will fully fund Beira’s Place, said: "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.”

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The service is free to use and has been set up, according to its creators, in response to “demand from female survivors for a woman-only service”.

JK Rowling has launched a 'women-only' sexual violence support service in Edinburgh called Beira's PlaceJK Rowling has launched a 'women-only' sexual violence support service in Edinburgh called Beira's Place
JK Rowling has launched a 'women-only' sexual violence support service in Edinburgh called Beira's Place

When asked if Beira’s Place would support trans women who are victims of sexual assault, the organisation said is a “women-only” service.

A spokesperson for Beira’s Place said: “We believe that women deserve to have certainty that, in using our services, they will not encounter anyone who is male. Where appropriate, we will refer men or individuals identifying as trans women to other appropriate services”.

Beira’s Place’s chief executive is Isabelle Kerr MBE, who will be supported by a deputy chief executive Sue Domminney, and a team of expert support workers.

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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.”

Rape Crisis Scotland told the BBC it welcomed any new service to support survivors of sexual violence. The charity also said: "It is crucial that the life-saving support offered by rape crisis centres is available to trans and non-binary people.

"All rape crisis services in Scotland offer support to trans women and have done so for 15 years. There has not been a single incident of anyone abusing this. We continue to see the paths to equality for women and trans people are being deeply interconnected and dependent on shared efforts to dismantle systems of discrimination."

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J.K. Rowling will be joined on the board of Beira’s Place by Rhona Hotchkiss, a former governor of Cornton Vale women’s prison; Johann Lamont, who was Scottish Labour leader from 2011 to 2014; Dr Margaret McCartney, a GP, academic and broadcaster and Susan Smith, a director of For Women Scotland.

Beira’s Place, which is located in central Edinburgh, will open for confidential off-site assessments and appointments in 2023. Details of how survivors of sexual violence can access the service are on its website www.beirasplace.org.uk