Belgian plastic surgeon to file defamation complaint after sexist lecture sparks major outcry

Belgian plastic surgeon to file defamation complaint after sexist lecture sparks major outcry
The surgeon was invited by the conservative student association KVHV. Credit: Campagne ROSA

A Belgian plastic surgeon who refused to apologise after being caught on video making a "rancid" string of sexist and "rabidly" hateful comments about women is going to file a slander and defamation complaint.

A video showing Dr Jeff Hoeyberghs, a well-known plastic surgeon working out of the Limburg area, has gone viral on Facebook and has led to over 500 complaints filed to the federal institute for equality.

Hoeyberghs called the outcry over his intervention at the University of Ghent a case of "collective hysteria," saying that his speech was only intended for the ears of the members of Catholic Flemish Students Union, which was originally founded as a male-only association.

The video shows the cosmetic surgeon saying women had "become superfluous" after being "given" dishwashing machines and "cleaning ladies," as well as saying that women want the "privileges of male protection and money but do not want to open their legs anymore."

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The cosmetic surgeon lawyer told De Standaard that the complaint was aimed at the feminist association Campagne ROSA, which uploaded his speech to its Facebook page leading to public outcry and condemnation, with Ghent University distancing itself from the incident.

The lawyer also said the complaint was aimed at strangers who called his "renowned" client to "hurl insults" at him on a daily basis since the publication of the video, where he also said that women should not be scientists because they let "their emotions get in the way."

Two members of the Flemish socialist party were one of the hundreds to file a complaint against Hoeyberghs, saying that as citizens and women, they "must not allow these kinds of statements to pass us by."

MPs Hannelore Goeman and Katia Segers said that the surgeon made "one rancid statement about women after another," in his speech, where he displayed "forms of rabid hatred toward women that are not only disgusting, but, in our opinion, also punishable by law."

Hoeyberghs lawyer said his client's statements were not punishable because they did not target a specific person, adding that the surgeon's comments were "of a purely general nature."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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