Sexual harassment complaint shocks Schaerbeek municipality

Sexual harassment complaint shocks Schaerbeek municipality
Sihame Haddioui and Michel de Herde. Credit: Belga

The Councillor for Equality at Schaerbeek municipality, Sihame Haddioui, has filed a complaint for sexual harassment against her colleague Michel De Herde, who allegedly made sexual innuendos and rubbed her thighs.

The complaints for acts of sexual harassment and indecent assault come after Haddioui filed a first internal report with the mayor last February against the Councillor for Budgets, who denies the accusations.

She tells Le Soir how De Herde had been making sexual innuendos for some time. In October, during a city council meeting, he whispered to her that she had beautiful breasts, and then stroked her thighs.

Haddioui was completely in shock and did not dare to intervene during the lectures afterwards. In addition, there were important budget discussions in the month of December. It was only in February that she took her complaint to Mayor Cécile Jodogne.

The mayor has heard both councillors, while De Herde denies the allegations. He told RTBF that Haddioui has made up the facts to take revenge on him after hard budget talks.

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Meanwhile, De Herde has informed Défi chairman François De Smet of the criminal complaint.

According to mayor Cécile Jodogne, it is up to the party chairman to decide the fate of De Herde. She says her ability to intervene is limited due to the special status of the councillor. In Brussels there is "statute of municipality mandatories" which has special rules for mayors and councillors.

As a temporary measure, it has been decided that the two councillors will no longer sit next to each other in the municipal council.

Since the incidents, Haddioui does not go to the office and holds meetings in a café for the time being. She has stated to be reconsidering her political future.

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