Sexual Violence at The University of Edinburgh: The Redressal System Needs to Change

Sexual Violence at The University of Edinburgh: The Redressal System Needs to Change

0 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
At 75,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!
Aarti Mukhedkar started this petition to The University of Edinburgh

Reports suggest that there are hundreds of cases of sexual assault reported at the University of Edinburgh every year. Reports also suggest that for every one reported case, there are a hundred that go unreported. Reasons for the reluctance to speak out range from fear and shame, to the expectation that a complaint will not result in any real consequences, or action being taken against the perpetrator. Reasons that are rooted in the very culture that exists at UoE surrounding sexual violence, a culture that the University turns a blind eye to. 

I am not only a survivor of sexual violence but also a victim of neglect at the hands of the University. The University could not have prevented the assault, but they have a responsibility of care. It is not an unreasonable expectation that in University accommodation I am safe, and if a crime is committed against me, I will be taken care of and I have the right to justice. In a veiled attempt to ‘help’ me, the University proceeded to victim-blame, gaslight and corner me further. All of this was sugar-coated, to keep me in the dark, for a very long time. The whole process went on for 11 months. Three hundred and thirty five days. 

I trusted the system and followed the process, and filed a formal complaint in accordance with the University’s procedures.

My case was upheld by the Conduct Investigator as a “severe case” due to the life-threatening nature of the assault. The case was then passed on to the Student Disciplinary Committee (SDC) to decide on the penalty. The SDC arbitrarily dismissed my entire complaint – despite the clear finding of the Conduct Investigator that the assault had occurred – with a one-line explanation that “the allegations against the respondent could not be proven on the balance of probabilities”. As simple as that. The decision of the case was overturned and the case was closed. 

There were also several lapses in the process followed by the SDC in deciding the case. Still intending to follow the process, I wrote to the SDC, outlining the many lapses in the process. They came back with responses that not only failed to address the concerns, but further obfuscated the matter.

I sought legal counsel and we wanted to file an appeal but, believe it or not, we were informed by the University that the appeal option is open only to the accused, and not to the victim. My hands were tied, there was nothing I could do. 

And so, while the University of Edinburgh has the highest number of reported cases of sexual violence amongst all universities in Scotland, the system of redressal of these crimes is unfair, opaque and hugely stacked in favour of the accused

The cases of sexual violence are rising every day. It's time to review the process and ensure a safe place for students. And, in case of an incident of sexual violence, at least the redressal process needs to be fair, transparent, and effective.

I value my privacy more than anything, and I wanted to handle this privately, choosing to grieve and heal in my own time, while still fighting for what I believed in. The University has traumatised me, and continues to traumatise all survivors that reach out, while ensuring that rapists and abusers can sit comfortably in our libraries and lecture halls. 

Even if you do not attend University in Edinburgh or even in the UK, these lapses are a universal issue. By signing this petition you are making an example out of UoE, you are a soldier in the crusade against sexual violence and the battle against injustice. 

Sign my petition, sign it with rage. I urge you to be angry and to be loud with me. 

 

 

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 75,000!
At 75,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!