THE Scottish Greens have defended the head of a rape crisis centre who said “bigoted” survivors should have their “unacceptable beliefs” challenged as part of their recovery.

Mridul Wadhwa, chief executive of Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, said people would not truly recover from trauma unless they addressed any prejudices as “therapy is political”. 

It implied rape survivors could be treated differently according to their political views.

Wadhwa, 43, a trans woman without a gender recognition certificate who took on the job in May, faced calls to resign after making the comments on The Guilty Feminist Podcast.

One sexual violence expert said “pushing a political view onto a woman at a time of profound trauma and crisis” would be “inappropriate, unethical and unprofessional”.

READ MORE: Outcry over plan to educate ‘bigoted’ rape survivors about trans rights

Wadhwa later issued a statement attempting to draw a line under the matter, saying some of her words had been “taken out of context”, but also wishing her language “had been clearer”.

She said that if a woman engaged with her centre's services, it would prioritise her needs.

But she added: “If what we see/hear from someone is clearly prejudiced and we are not responding to their urgent support need it is also part of our role to provide a space to explore and challenge this, in as kind a way as possible.”

The row coincided with another controversy over the provision of women-only spaces in rape crisis centres across Scotland, and the potential presence of trans women.

In a statement  this morning, the Scottish Greens, who hope to enter joint government with the SNP, condemned abuse aimed at rape crisis centres and at Wadhwa personally.  

MSP Maggie Chapman said misinformation was being spread about the services which was “based on ignorance, bigotry and hatred”, made staff “targets for violence” and hurt “survivors most of all”.

However the statement failed to mention that Ms Chapman is currently listed at Companies House as being the secretary of Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre.

Nor does it mention that until June 30 she was its chief operating officer - effectively Wadhwa's deputy - although this is declared in her register of MSP interests.

In her statement, Ms Chapman merely said that she had worked in "a" rape crisis centre, but did not say that it was Edinburgh or that Wadhwa was her old boss.

The Greens' equalities and social justice spokesperson, Ms Chapman said: “The Scottish Greens stand in solidarity with Rape Crisis Scotland, Edinburgh Rape Crisis, survivors of gender-based violence, Mridul Wadhwa, and trans people across Scotland.

“Rape Crisis Scotland and rape crisis centres across the country provide vital, life-saving support, therapy and advocacy for survivors of gender-based violence. 

“The spreading of misinformation about and distrust in the services provided by rape crisis organisations is completely unacceptable, and is based on ignorance, bigotry and hatred.

“This behaviour damages survivors: it makes them less likely and less able to access the services that could save their lives. 

“This behaviour also damages the workers: exposure to hate takes an emotional and psychological toll that leaves them less able to do their work and less able to deal with the vicarious trauma that is inevitable in this kind of work. 

“It also potentially puts them in physical danger, making them targets for violence and abuse. 

“I hope those participating in the aggressive pile-ons on social media, the abusive phone-calls to rape crisis centres, will realise the damage they are doing to workers and survivors. And stop!

“Transphobia is at an alarming level in Scottish public life, and it is incumbent on political leaders to challenge the bigotry and hatred being directed at trans people, their families and friends, and the organisations for which they work.”

In her register of MSP interests, filed on June 8, Ms Chapman said: "I am the Chief Operating Officer of Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, a charitable organisation supporting survivors of sexual violence.

"I receive between £25,001 and £30,000 per annum. I spend 28 hours per week in the role but have submitted my resignation and will be in post until 30 June 2021."

In December, then MSP Andy Wightman quit the Greens over what he called its “alienating and provocative” stance on trans rights.  

He said the party was “very censorious of any deviation from an agreed line”, and he had been threatened with expulsion after raising concerns about the impact of trans rights on women’s rights.

It followed the Greens and Liberal Democrats being the only parties to oppose a plan to let rape survivors choose the sex, rather than gender, of the person examining them in the aftermath of an attack.

At the Holyrood election, the Greens appeared to take a dig at Mr Wightman in the section of their manifesto on LGBT+ rights.

It said: “Green candidates are committed to progress, and will not hide behind special ‘votes of  conscience’ to stand in the way of  equality.”