In pictures: Students protest the University of Edinburgh’s handling of sexual assault

Survivors took their stance over an unjust system


On Thursday, the 9th of February, dozens of Edinburgh students protested against the University of Edinburgh’s sexual violence redressal system.

It was organised by a fourth-year student, Aarti Mukhedkar, protesting in the hope of bringing about change in how the university handles situations of sexual assault. It took place one year after a similar protest stormed the main library on George Square.

This week, The Edinburgh Tab spoke to Aarti about her campaign to change to the university’s system for dealing with sexual assault cases, after she says she was mistreated by university staff after reporting being raped on campus two years ago.

The protest’s main and most powerful feature was a large banner, which was hung in the library but was later removed for breaching the university’s stance of being apolitical.

Protestors showed up with signs to demonstrate their support for survivors of sexual assault.

Those attending displayed discontent with the University’s code of conduct relating to cases of sexual assault.

The organisers of the protest stood in solidarity in front of the crowd of protestors.

“What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.” The campaign attracted large-scale attention with a large crowd of attendees participating in chants for justice during the protest.

Several survivors of sexual assault and their allies bravely shared their stories.

“You can call it ‘me too’ if you want. For me, it’s ‘enough is enough'”, the protest’s organiser, Aarti Mukhedkar, said.

The Edinburgh Tab spoke to Hope, Women’s Liberation Officer for Students’ Association. Hope believes the University’s “ridiculously awful” sexual violence redressal system is “not fit for purpose”, alleging “it is victim blaming and re-traumatising survivors who go through the process and discouraging others from doing so”.

After the event in Bristo Square, protestors marched to the Edinburgh University Library.

A full video of the protest, including interviews with those taking part, can be found on our TikTok.

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “We support the right of people to protest lawfully and peacefully. The strength of feeling around these issues is something the University fully understands. We do not tolerate sexual violence within our community and we investigate all reports made to us thoroughly.

“We continue to invest significantly in raising awareness, delivering training for students and staff and ensuring there is effective professional support available for any student who needs it. Our dedicated Equally Safe Team provides specialist advice, support and guidance to those affected by forms of abuse. We also have a system in place that enables students to either tell the University about any abuse they have suffered anonymously or report it with contact details and seek wider support.

“The University systematically reviews all of our policies and processes and we will continue to listen to views on what changes can be made to refine these, and help make sure that all students feel safe and protected.”

If you or someone you know has been affected by this story contact Refuge on their free 24/7 helpline 0808 2000 247 or contact Rape Crisis online for a free confidential chat helpline.

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