• Wed. May 22nd, 2024

University of Edinburgh accused of failing to support survivors of sexual assault

ByLucy Jackson

Jan 20, 2022
Group of protesters in Bristo Square holding signs against sexual violence. One states, "an assault on one is an insult to all".Students in Bristo protesting sexual violence.

CW: discussion of sexual assault

Aarti Mukhedkar, a student at the University of Edinburgh, has spoken out after their sexual assault case was dismissed by the Student Disciplinary Committee (SDC), despite the fact evidence was found which proved the assault had taken place.

Aarti’s case was determined by the Conduct Investigator as “severe” because of the life-threatening nature of the assault, however, the case was ultimately dismissed, and no further action was taken.

She stated that when the University of Edinburgh informed her that her case had been dismissed after 335 days, she was told that the “the allegations against the respondent could not be proven on the balance of probabilities.”

Throughout the process, Aarti explained how she trusted and followed the university’s procedures for reporting cases of sexual and violence, but that those dealing with her case “proceeded to victim-blame, gaslight, and corner [her] further” in order to maintain her silence.

Following the dismissal of her case, Aarti sought legal advice and wanted to appeal the decision. However, the university told her that the appeal system was only available to those accused, and not to victims.

Aarti communicated to the university the many failures she thought it had made, as well as starting a petition on change.org which has gathered over 25 000 signatures in less than a week.

The aim of the petition is to highlight the injustices done to her and other survivors of sexual assault at the university, as well as asking the university to review their redressal procedure.

The University of Edinburgh did not acknowledge the petition until almost a week after it was created and have since agreed to set up meetings with Aarti to further discuss her case.

In her petition, Aarti said,

“I am not only a survivor of sexual violence but also a victim of neglect at the hands of the university.

“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.

“The University of Edinburgh has the highest number of reported cases of sexual violence amongst all universities in Scotland, [and] the system of redressal of these crimes is unfair, opaque, and hugely stacked in favour of the accused.”

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh told The Student:

“The University does not tolerate sexual violence nor any form of abuse within its community and takes such reports very seriously.

“We are aware of the petition, and we continue to work closely across the University to develop strategies aimed at both preventing and responding to such forms of abuse.

“We encourage more students to disclose to the University that they are survivors of abuse and sexual violence, reduce incidences of sexual violence through education and culture change, and provide victim-centred support to survivors.

“Any student who has experienced sexual harassment, violence or abuse can use the ‘Report & Support’ platform to either tell the University (anonymously) about what happened or report it, with their contact details, and seek confidential and specialist support.”

Image via: Callum Moffat

By Lucy Jackson

President of The Student.