JK Rowling has launched a new women-only support service for victims of sexual violence. The author says Beira’s Place will provide free support and advocacy for women in Edinburgh who have experienced abuse at any time in their lives.
She said the service would meet an “unmet need” in response to demands from female survivors of abuse.
Ms Rowling said it was important that survivors had the option of women-centred and women-delivered care. Rape Crisis Scotland said support should also be available to trans and non-binary people.The Harry Potter creator has held a longstanding interest in women’s and children’s issues and has been a vocal critic of the Scottish government’s reform of the Gender Recognition Act.
Other critics of the reform are among those on the board of directors for Beira’s Place. As well as Ms Rowling, they include former prison governor Rhona Hotchkiss, previous Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, GP Margaret McCartney, and director of For Women Scotland, Susan Smith.
The new venture is being funded by the author, who lives in Edinburgh. It is not a charity and will not rely on donations.
Ms Rowling 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 s.e.xual 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. Named after Beira, the Scottish goddess of winter, it will be run by a paid staff of experienced support workers and headed by chief executive Isabelle Kerr and deputy chief executive Susan Domminney.
They previously ran the 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.