Rise in reports of domestic violence across Belgium in 2018
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    Rise in reports of domestic violence across Belgium in 2018

    More than 20 women have died at the hands of men since the beginning of 2019 in Belgium. Credit: Pixabay.

    In 2018 the number of reports of domestic violence across all three regions of Belgium to reach 20,759 in total figures released by the interior minister showed.

    In 2018 there were 21,604 reports of physical domestic violence made to police, up from 20,759 reports in 2017, Interior Minister Pieter De Crem said after he was questioned in parliament.

    The largest increase of complaints recorded by police was registered in the Brussels-Capital Region, where in 2018 police received 2,478 reports, up from 2,300 in 2017, according to De Standaard.

    In Flanders and Wallonia, the numbers also increased but less significantly, with Flemish police recording 10,705 reports of intra-family violence, up from 10,417, while in Wallonia the number of reports went from 2,300 in 2017 to 2,478 last year.

    Desite the increases, De Crem said in parliament that there was a still a high prevalence of underreported cases, saying: “The biggest obstacle seems to be taking the step to make a complaint,” and adding that it was not unusual that victims chose to report the incident some time after the facts.

    The figures also showed that there had been slight increase in the number of reports of psychological and economic violence, which went, from 15,764 and 1,423 in 2017 to 15,806 and 1,415 in 2018, respectively.

    The number of complaints of sexual violence was among the lowest figures reported by the minister, and showed there had been a decline in the number of cases reported, with 139 reports in 2018, compared to 148 in 2017.

    Figures reported in the federal government’s 2015-2019 National Action Plan against domestic violence show that this year’s numbers have declined in comparison to four years ago, where nearly 40,000 reports of domestic violence were made, as well as 2,882 reports of rape.

    The document showed that an overwhelming majority (78%) of victims of domestic violence in Belgium were not reporting serious act of domestic violence committed by their partner to the authorities, and that only 33% chose to speak about it with a personal care provider.

    Recent studies on the prevalence of violence against women, in Belgium and abroad, have led to increasing calls and protests for the government take more effective action to fight the problem, including one study which found that more than one in four women in Belgium has been subject to violence or harassment at the hands of their partners.

    A viral anti-rape performance protest, which originally started to Chile before spreading all over the world, recently came to Brussels and Liège, with hundreds of participants showing up for the action in which demonstrators chanted that “the rapist is the state.”

    A measure seeking to protect women from violent partners by making offenders wear warning bracelets is being considered in the parliament after a similar measure showed a decline in incidents of violence against women after it was implemented in Spain.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times