About 150 people attempt to murder their (former) partner every year in Belgium
Wednesday, 06 November 2019
There are often signals that indicate if a conflict between ex-partners can escalate. Credit: Pexels
Several experts have called on the Belgian police to intervene more quickly at signs of partner violence after a woman was killed by her former partner, who had been stalking her for several months, in the West Flanders province.
“The numbers are alarmingly high,” said Liesbet Stevens, deputy director of the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, on Radio 1. “Every year, some twenty people are killed by an ex-partner. If we count all attempted murders and manslaughters, the number rises to about 150 people who fall victim to their ex-partner. Often, a long history of stalking and/or violence precedes the attempt,” she added.
“10% of all murders in Belgium are between ex-partners. Stalking is a big issue as well, about 22,000 reports are made every year,” said Anne Groenen, a criminologist at the UCLL University College, reports VRT NWS.
However, the experts admit that it is impossible to prevent all of these (attempted) murders, despite there often being signals that indicate if a conflict between ex-partners can escalate.
“The history of the relationship certainly plays an important role,” said Stevens. “Has there been any violence before, or have there been threats with a weapon? Additionally, some periods are particularly dangerous, like the moment when a victim decides to end the relationship, for example. Pregnancy or childbirth can also be moments when the risk of violence is bigger,” she added.
The police and the Belgian courts have made a lot of progress, according to the two experts. “Stalking is now punishable, it has gotten easier to evict an offender from your home, and the police has strict instructions on how to handle violence between partners,” said Stevens. “But intervening quickly at the first signs, that still needs to be done more,” she added.