Flemish awareness campaign to focus on ‘grey zone’ in sexually inappropriate behaviour
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Flemish awareness campaign to focus on ‘grey zone’ in sexually inappropriate behaviour

The campaign asks to check people who are initiating sexual behaviour of any type to check themselves. Credit: Pexels

The new awareness campaign to make it easier to discuss and prevent sexually inappropriate behaviour, launched by Flemish centre of expertise for sexual health Sensoa, women’s organisation Zij-kant and nonprofit organisation Zijn, focusses on the ‘grey zone’.

The ‘grey zone’, as described by Sensoa, is a situation in which it is not entirely clear whether the behaviour is sexually transgressive and inappropriate or not.

“There is behaviour that everyone agrees is unacceptable, like rape in the bushes by a stranger, for example,” said Julia Day, Sensoa policy officer, reports VRT NWS. “Then there is sexual behaviour that is okay for almost everyone, like two lovers kissing or having sex. However, there is a very big grey zone in between those, about which there are a lot of discussions,” she added.

“That zone is very dependent on context, previous experiences, the relationship between two people… It is much more difficult to say ‘no’ to a boss than to a friend. It also depends on the person themselves. What is acceptable to one person, someone else might not find okay at all,” she added.

Translation of illustration: “Is this okay?” in the speech bubble. “Not sure? Check it!” below.

The website provides tips on how to subtly check if the situation is still okay for everyone involved and more information on transgressive behaviour, as well as several tests that participants can use to see how they would react in certain situations.

The campaign asks people who are initiating sexual behaviour of any type to check themselves. “Do you see signals that the other person is interested? Do you think it might be difficult to say ‘no’ for the other person in this situation?” said Day. “You can always verbally ask them if everything is still okay, or put the ball in their court and wait for them to make a move,” she added.

“We also want to encourage bystanders to intervene and provide a distraction if they see a situation going wrong. For example, by asking the person who is being harassed for direction to the nearest toilets,” she added.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times