Brussels: first conviction and sentence for sexism in public place
Tuesday, 06 March 2018
The first conviction and sentence for sexism in a public place was given to a young man who attacked a policewoman, humiliating her on the grounds of her sex. The Dutch-speaking section of the Brussels Criminal Court sentenced the individual to a total fine of €3,000. The facts are reported on Tuesday in Le Soir, the publication having had sight of the judgment.
This is the first time that a charge relating to sexism in a public place has both been accepted by a court, and resulted in a sentence. The judgment, by way of the “sexism law” passed in 2014, sentenced the defendant to a fine of €500 raised by additional indexing, under the present system involving multiplication by a factor of six. The total amount was therefore €3,000. The man’s crimes involved sexist remarks in a public place, as well as insulting a police officer and threats.
In the event that the fine is not paid within the legal time-limits, the defendant must serve a one-month prison sentence. The incident took place in June 2016, during questioning for a road traffic offence. The young man verbally attacked the policewoman on the grounds of her gender. The charges accepted by the court were serious violation of the individual’s dignity on the grounds of her sex and, as alluded to earlier, insulting a police officer and threats.
The spokesman for the Public Prosecutor at the Halle Vilvorde Public Prosecutor’s Office, Gilles Blondeau, explained, “This is the first time that we have used this law to prosecute an individual.”
He went on, “It is a fairly frequent occurrence that people arrested by the police pour out insults and threats. However personally attacking a policewoman owing to her sex is a special case. This proved a good test case for this particular law, being in itself a concrete and very clear set of facts, with numerous witnesses to the incident.”