A silent march is to be held in Antwerp on Sunday in protest against sexual abuse and harassment. The march comes just days after the murder of a 23-year-old student, Julie Van Espen, in Merksem. It should start at 14:00 on the Astridplein, near to the train station, and move towards the Steenplein, via Groenplaats. However, the organisers are still awaiting authorisation from the communal authorities.
“This march will be a silent one, but we hope to be able to carry out this action in large numbers against a legal system that abandons the victims of (sexual) violence,” the organisers said on the event’s Facebook page. “We are calling on the leaders to take real measures to counter and punish such violence.”
By demonstrating calmly, they also wish to express their support for all victims.
Julie Van Espen had set out on a bicycle to join friends in the south of Antwerp on Saturday evening but disappeared. Her lifeless body was found on Monday in the Albert Canal.
Her presumed killer, Steve B., aged 39, was arrested on Tuesday after confessing to the crime.
Steve B. had been sentenced in 2017 to four years’ in prison for rape and was awaiting his appeal case. At the time, the Antwerp correctional court had not ordered his immediate arrest.