The Brussels regional government has produced a plan to improve safety for women in public places, as well as five million euros for the creation of a centre for the victims of domestic violence.
“Women often feel unsafe on public transport or in public spaces,” said Brussels minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen). “They are often harassed verbally or physically and action must be taken.”
Part of the plan is to increase the police presence in metro stations.
“But we also need to make sure that police officers know what harassment and aggression against women entail. And it is also important that women know they can file a complaint with a hotline.”
For that purpose, all police officers will have to follow a course on how to deal with the victims of harassment and violence. Each police station will have a separate space where the victims of harassment – online or off – can make a report in confidence.
The plan also includes a budget of five million euros to set up a reception centre for the victims of family violence. The centre will have space to accommodate 50 women. A location has yet to be decided.
The plan involves more than one ministerial area of responsibility. Labour minister Bernard Clerfayt (Défi) aims to seek a better work-life balance. “If those things are not well balanced, it can lead to domestic violence,” he said.
“That also applies to discrimination on the labour market. That is why we will work on a more efficient and decisive investigation policy for unfair treatment of employees.”
In concrete terms – literally – the plan also involves the rearrangement of some squares, streets and other public spaces, for example with wider pavements and better street lighting. And a plan is already under way to increase the number of streets named after women.
“This is a good example of a coordinated approach that makes it possible to tackle this problem in all its aspects,” said Nawal Ben Hamou (PS), minister for equal opportunities.