Interior Affairs Minister wants to make it possible for rape victims to report online
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Interior Affairs Minister wants to make it possible for rape victims to report online

Interior Affairs Minister Annelies Verlinden. Credit: Belga

In order to ensure that cases of rape and sexual assault are reported more often, Belgium’s Interior Affairs Minister Verlinden wants to offer victims the possibility to report online as well.

It is estimated that only one in ten cases of rape or sexual assault is reported to the police, Verlinden said on Flemish radio on Friday.

“We absolutely have to lower the barriers so that victims can take the step of reporting and we can prosecute better,” she said. “We need to look at how victims can contact the police more easily, for example online, so that they no longer have to take the step of going to the commissariat. I am personally in favour of that.”

Verlinden also noted that there are several good arguments against reporting online, including that traces and evidence of rape are best collected as quickly as possible.

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“However, we must look at everything that can contribute to a better reporting and prosecution,” she said, adding that as soon as a report is made, the follow-up must be able to start.

Additionally, the network of care centres where “integral help” is offered to people who experienced sexual violence of any nature is being expanded.

Currently, there are three such centres in Belgium, but seven more are being added now, according to Verlinden.

The announcement follows news from earlier this week of an underage girl who took her own life after allegedly being the victim of sexual assault and rape on a cemetery in Ghent, of which images were spread on social media.

If you have been having suicidal thoughts, or are worried about someone else, contact one of the help organisations listed here.