Brussels lawyers call out Belgian justice system with viral anti-rape anthem
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Brussels lawyers call out Belgian justice system with viral anti-rape anthem

Female lawyers in Brussels performed a viral Chilean protest song which depicts the state as a rapist, to call out sexism within the Belgian legal system. Credit: Progress Lawyers/Twitter

Dozens of female lawyers in Brussels performed a Chilean anti-rape anthem to protest the pervasiveness of sexism in the Belgian justice system.

Blindfolded and in their court robes, the lawyers gathered in the entrance of the Palais de Justice on Monday, in a protest which came after thousands marched through the city to mark International Women’s Day.

Around 50 lawyers took part in the demonstration, according to the organisers, performing “A rapist in your way,” a protest anthem which has travelled the world after first being performed by feminists in Chile.

The performance’s blunt depiction of governments, police, judges and an abstract “you” as rapists underscores a collective social failure to take violence against women seriously.

Progress Lawyers, the group behind the demonstration, said the protest was aimed at supporting women’s access to justice as well as to demand the justice system in Belgium takes sexual violence seriously.

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The group is one of several who has come out in support of Belgium inscribing femicide in the penal code, a demand which has gained traction as nonprofits collect criminal statistics on violence against women to shed a light on the extent of the situation.

The widely mediatised attempted rape and murder of a Flemish student in her 20s by a man who was released pre-trial despite having been already convicted for sexual assault has further fueled the debate over a lax legal approach to violence against women.

Additionally, the group also sought to call out the sexism within the profession, in a protest which came after a high-profile lawyer in Flanders said that, after the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, he had stopped hiring women altogether.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times