The Council of Francophone Women in Belgium, CFFB, has called for femicide – the killing of women precisely because they are women – to be recognised specifically in Belgian law.
Such killings are the last link in a chain of various acts of violence, including verbal harassment, rape and other types of physical aggression, the CFFB stressed. The organisation, which notes that nothing has changed in the way these abuses are addressed, argued that the profile of the criminal who killed young Julie Van Espen last week illustrated that continuum.
According to the CFFB, Van Espen was the 11th femicide victim in Belgium this year, after 36 last year and 39 in 2017. Data for 2014 from the Office of the Public Prosecutor shows that four rape complaints are registered each day in Belgium, but these figures do not adequately reflect the reality on the ground, the Council said.
Pursuant to its memorandum, the Council wants people who intervene at all levels of the legal system, including all medical and psychiatric corps, court officials, lawyers, judges, prosecutors and police, to receive continuous training on violence against women.
Human and financial resources also need to be mobilised and budgeted to make sure that sex offenders are monitored in an effective and sustainable manner so as to assess the risk they represent to society and avoid repeat offences as much as possible, the CFFB urged.