Outrage after advocate says rape survivor 'should be spat on' after she complained of session with transgender woman

Deventer said so after the rape survivor, who is terrified of men, avoided support sessions held by a trans woman who dressed and behaved like a man

Outrage after advocate says rape survivor 'should be spat on' after she complained of session with transgender woman
Leena van Deventer, a board member for the Victorian Women's Trust in Australia has called upon a rape victim to be 'spat on at every opportunity' (Victorian Women's Trust website)
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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA: An equality advocate has said that a rape survivor should be "spat on at every opportunity" after she refused to attend support sessions with a transgender woman who dressed and behaved like a man. The victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, accused the welfare organization of indirect discrimination after it required the transgender woman to attend rape support meetings. 

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Leena van Deventer, a board member of the Victorian Women's Trust, tweeted that a UK rape victim who sued The Survivors' Network "should be spat on at every opportunity." She further attacked the victim in a series of tweets on her private Twitter account. Deventer is a writer and video game developer who has taught at RMIT and Swinburne University. 

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In one of her tweets, Deventer called a rape victim "sh*theel." And also she wrote, "I hope she falls into a well."

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The Victorian Women's Trust had only supported women and girls for 36 years up until six years ago, when it started to include people of all genders, including biological men who identify as women. Daily Mail Australia reported that according to trust CEO Mary Crooks, the organization would support Deventer and keep her on the board. She said, "Leena has done what I thought she'd do and expressed deep remorse and understood there is no constructive path gained by her in going into the gutter on social media." She added, "She has learned a lesson and frankly I'm proud of the approach we have taken and proud of her response."

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The rape survivor claims she had a panic attack after going to the support group. She has a strong mistrust of men. According to the woman, the transgender person appeared "typically male," dressed in male attire. A petition started by the Coalition for Biological Reality asks the Trust to remove Deventer from the board of a group that professes to support women.

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Deventer's comments, according to coalition founder Stassja Frei, clearly showed a conflict of rights. She said, "What Leena said is abhorrent. This UK woman felt unsafe in a group that included a male. If you extend that to public toilets, change rooms, and prisons it is perfectly reasonable for women to feel unsafe and uncomfortable opening up about their sexual trauma in front of males or undressing in front of a male. It's common sense."

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If all women's support groups welcomed transgender people, Frei argued, where could women who had been abused by trans people turn for assistance? She stated, "Women's organizations running these services could partner with an LGBT organization and set up a group for transwomen and transmen or have an inclusive group while still offering a separate group for females only. It's about creating options rather than forcing this ideology on women."

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Frei stated that she thought the Victorian Women's Trust had effectively turned into an LGBT organization and was no longer in a position to advocate for women. She said, "There are plenty of LGBT organizations out there so why women's organizations need to be diluted is baffling."

Research suggested "biological sex matters," according to Dr Nicola Williams, a research scientist with an expertise in human biology and the director of Fair Play for Women. According to her report, 'Supporting Women in Domestic and Sexual Violence Services', a person with a male body posed a potential threat to biological women that an individual without that physiology did not. Dr Williams spoke with numerous victims of assault and violence and concluded that allowing transwomen to attend support groups would compromise their emotional security and prevent many women from ethnic minorities from joining those groups.

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Daily Mail reported on June 28, that despite not being anti-trans, the rape survivor claimed that the presence of a trans woman changed the dynamic and atmosphere of the support group. She said, "I think it's fantastic that trans survivors feel that there is a safe space for them that they can go and seek help. But for me personally, a mixed-sex space doesn't work. I think having just one additional group for women who are born female would be the answer."

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A Twitter user posted the Deventer's tweets and wrote, "Leena van Deventer, board member of the Victorian Women's Trust, says she hopes a woman who was raped falls down a well & she should be spat on "at every opportunity". Can @VicWomensTrust explain if this is acceptable to them & their goal to treat women with respect and dignity?"


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Crooks said, "Society has to be much more creative and considered and thoughtful in coming up with solutions that enable people to participate in their worlds. I understand the tensions and nervousness and the way in which people might want to prosecute their cases, but we need to find ways for all people to be supported and valued." She added, "If a transwoman is in a sexual assault group because they've been the subject of rape, then that person deserves support. If a group is not comfortable with the person in the group, the agency needs to find a way to accommodate both sets of needs. Meanwhile, Deventer claims to be "resetting her focus" and "asserting her desire to concentrate on positive, fruitful work." "This is my focus and will remain my focus," she claims.

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