Over 300 complaints filed after 'shameful' sexist lecture by famous Belgian plastic surgeon at UGhent

Over 300 complaints filed after 'shameful' sexist lecture by famous Belgian plastic surgeon at UGhent
The surgeon made several sexist statements during his lecture. Credit: Campagne ROSA

Over 300 complaints have been filed against famous Belgian plastic surgeon Jeff Hoeyberghs, after a video of him making sexist statements during a lecture at the University of Ghent on Wednesday 4 December appeared online.

The conservative Flemish student association KVHV invited Hoeyberghs to give a lecture at the UGhent, in which he made several sexist statements. Several fragments of the lecture were filmed and put on Facebook by the feminist Campagne ROSA organisation and provoked a great deal of indignation on social media.

He made statements like "Women want the privileges of male protection and money, but they do not want to open their legs anymore", "We have given women dishwashing machines and cleaning ladies, until they themselves became superfluous" and "You cannot treat a woman like an equal without becoming her slave".

In the same lecture, he said that women were not suitable to become scientist, as they always let emotions get in their way, according to him.

"We, as citizens, we, as women, must not allow these kinds of statements to pass us by. Never," said Hannelore Goeman and Katia Segers, the MPs who have filed a complaint against the man, reports VRT.

In their complaint, Segers and Goeman say that Hoeyberghs made "one rancid statement about women after another" during the lecture. They talk about "a series of sexist statements" and "forms of rabid hatred of women that are not only disgusting but, in our opinion, also punishable by law."

On Monday evening, the civil movement Allemaal Van Belang launched a call to file complaints against Hoeyberghs based on the Belgian law against sexism. The complaints could be directed to the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men as well as to the Belgian Order of Doctors. Over 250 complaints have been filed as a direct result of Allemaal Van Belang's call. Many complaints were also filed independently.

The organisation itself has only filed a complaint with the Order of Doctors, who will discuss the incident on the Limburg Provincial Council on 20 January, according to Allemaal Van Belang.

Several other politicians, including both the Federal and Flemish Minister for Equal Opportunities, Nathalie Muylle and Bart Somers respectively, reacted to Hoeyberghs' statements on Twitter.

Translation of tweet: "Jeff Hoeyberghs' statements are hallucinatory and embarrassing for a doctor. You'd better hang out with women more often, Jeff, because you can still learn a lot from us."

Translation of tweet: "A surgeon. Anno 2019. Here. At a university. Shameful."

"UGhent is also looking into the case," said the University's rector, Rik Van de Walle, who had earlier called the surgeon's statements "shameful", reports Het Nieuwsblad. "I completely distance myself from the statements that Mr Hoeyberghs thought he had to make. What is shown in the video is downright humiliating and goes completely against everything that our university stands for," he added.

The plastic surgeon only posted a meme, that has since been removed, saying "I am not sexist. Sexism is wrong. and being wrong is for women" to his Facebook page to react to the commotion around his statements and his lecture.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

This article has been updated to include a call for complaints issued by the Allemaal Van Belang organisation.

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