Amid backlash, Brussels police chief promises to do better for sexual assault victims
Share article:
Share article:

Amid backlash, Brussels police chief promises to do better for sexual assault victims

© Belga

After multiple rallies against sexual violence took place in Brussels last week, with victims offering testimony of poor treatment from police when attempting to report the crime, the chief of police for the Brussels South police zone says they want to do better.

They plan to train specialized officers who will handle such cases, according to VRT, after dozens of women speaking out against sexual violence said they encountered disbelief and skepticism when reporting that they were raped or assaulted.

Many victims said they were asked questions about what clothing they were wearing at the time they were attacked and whether or not they had been intoxicated, with the insinuation that depending on the answer, they were partly to blame for being assaulted.

“Our police officers do not have the superpowers to do everything,” said Chief of police Jurgen De Landsheer of police zone Brussels South.

“Some of them are barely twenty years old. They are faced with a victim and do not know what to do and ask the wrong questions.”

Belgium’s Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) has also promised in the House of Representatives on Thursday to remove the obstacles to file a complaint after sexual violence.

Women have long been pointing out the difficulties of doing so, which contributes to a lack of overall reporting in Belgium: while nine in ten girls in several of the country’s biggest cities have experienced sexual harassment in public spaces, just six percent of cases are reported.

Related News

 

An instagram page called “Balance ton bar” says it has been overwhelmed with victim testimonies when it comes to sexual violence in Brussels’ bars, specifically.

The page was formed following the rallies against sexual violence that began after multiple accusations surfaced on social media against an employee at Waff, an Ixelles café.

Waff reacted to the allegations by suspending the employee, but reports then circulated on social media that he had actually just been transferred to El Café, another bar in the same area.

Maïté Meeus, who started the Balance Ton Bar collective, said that the police response to sexual assault reports from victims not only discourages reporting, but can add additional trauma.

“Some victims feel they are being laughed at and not listened to. This often causes a second trauma, in addition to the first trauma caused by sexual violence,” Meeus told Bruzz, advocating for a broader approach.

“We have to tackle this together. Politicians, police, activists and restaurant owners.”

She isn’t impressed by the addition of a specially trained police unit to tackle something that really shouldn’t have been a difficult issue for ordinary officers in the first place.

“I think there are so many cases of sexual and other violence against women that a specialisation within the police force is not interesting. To me, it’s a basic skill to be able to listen to a victim in an appropriate way. This is about human competences that every cop should have.”

Meeus wants the first step to involve consultation with various partners from the nightlife scene, where sexual assault is rampant per victim testimony.

Starting next week, Balance ton Bar will sit down with various feminist collectives from Brussels to brainstorm a series of specific measures.

Latest news

Thousands march in Brussels to raise awareness of violence against women
More than 3,000 people took to the streets of Brussels on Sunday afternoon for a national march to raise awareness of violence against women in ...
Efficacy of vaccines against new variant known in a few weeks, virologist says
The efficacy of the current coronavirus vaccines against the new Omicron variant will be clear in one to two weeks, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst ...
Scientists could have communicated better during pandemic, survey shows
The majority of Flemish people continue to trust scientists, however, only half of them feel scientists communicated understandably during the ...
Closing borders and new travel restrictions: Countries react to Omicron variant
As more cases of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus are being reported across the world, more and more countries are imposing tougher travel ...
Several rush hour train services to be scrapped from Monday
Up to ten peak time trains to and from Brussels will be temporarily cancelled starting from Monday, Belgian railway company SNCB announced this ...
Europe’s largest vintage clothes store is in Ghent this weekend
Europe's largest pop-up store for second-hand clothes is once again setting up shop in Ghent on Sunday, offering more than five tonnes of vintage ...
Animal welfare in EU’s pig meat sector: What’s wrong?
EU has put into place legislation to ensure that animal welfare conditions are respected in its agricultural policy but the breaches of its ...
‘Not feasible’: Doctors refuse to follow new testing strategy
Doctors have warned they will not follow the government's adapted testing strategy which would see vaccinated people who were in close contact with a ...
Flanders introduces ‘invisible’ speed cameras
New digital speed cameras that are essentially invisible to the road user are being introduced on various roads and motorways in Flanders, Flemish ...
Warnings issued for slippery roads across Belgium
Drivers have been asked to watch out for slippery roads from Saturday afternoon until Sunday evening, as snow and cold temperatures are expected ...
Testing rules following high-risk contact eased for vaccinated people
The coronavirus testing policy following a high-risk contact has been eased, meaning a vaccinated person who was in contact with an infected person ...
New measures announced for Belgian schools
Stricter rules are being implemented across a variety of sectors in Belgium to curb the rising number of infections and limit the damage as a result ...