online education

Listed below are the surprising figures on violence towards ladies in Belgium

Although incomplete, figures on sexual violence in Belgium remain high, even as the authorities step up their crackdown.

Demonstration against violence against women, in Rennes on November 27, 2021 ©BelgaImage

This Friday is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. A broad subject as it brings together different types of aggression: physical, psychological, economic, etc. In order to better understand the extent of these phenomena, the authorities and associations have carried out surveys in Belgium. The numbers are frightening, but some of them are still vague due to a lack of data.

Many victims and the importance of prejudice

The most recent figures include those from Amnesty International, taken from a 2020 survey. One of the topics discussed was the issue of rape. It shows that every fifth woman has already suffered one. Among young people, it even increases to every fourth. In addition, 23% of women have experienced forced sexual relations at the hands of their partner, and 48% of sexual assault victims had it for the first time before their 19th birthday.

Results that have to be compared with hard prejudices. One in two men believe a victim may be partially responsible for their attack. Almost 20% of young people think that rape within the couple cannot be accused and every third person also estimates that it cannot be rape if one person does not explicitly say “no”. Finally, 48% of Belgians have been subjected to sexual violence.

Uncertain statistics

Do these numbers accurately reflect the reality on the ground? Difficult to certify. There are no official statistics and the definition of sexual violence can be debated. For its part, the SOS Viol association recorded 3,455 rapes in 2018, the latest year for which we have data, ie 9.5 complaints per day (a number slightly higher than in 2014, when it was 8.7 per day). The association also listed 140 spousal rapes, 216 gang rapes and 3,706 indecent assaults in 2018. The Institute for Gender Equality estimates that in 2017, 33.7% of women and 14.9% of men suffered domestic violence.

Then you need to consider the number of people who never file a complaint. A priori, given the obstacles to overcome to win the case, this phenomenon could be massive. Amnesty notes that 77% of respondents believe the justice system is not effective in tracing the perpetrator and that this can also be a barrier for victims. More objectively, 53% of rape cases are dropped and very few of the cases prosecuted result in effective convictions. All this not to mention the fear of not really being heard when a complaint is made. So many factors that would encourage victims to remain silent.

To read: Statistics on sexual violence: Belgium in the fog

Uncertainty also prevails with regard to femicides. A government bill should make this term official in order to provide statistics that are currently lacking. In the meantime, we must refer to the figures of the Stop Féminicide association. According to this, there have been at least 20 murders of women in 2022. In 2021 there were 22, one result less than in previous years (43 femicides were registered in 2017). But here, too, the definition of femicide is a matter of debate. In January 2022, for example, Spain was characterized by a particularly broad assessment, in that it took up femicides classified as familial, sexual or even social.

How is Belgium in Europe?

These subtleties make comparisons at European level difficult. This is reflected in the number of rapes recorded by Eurostat, for which the differences between countries are too great to appear to reflect the reality of the phenomenon. Germany, which has long had a very restrictive definition of rape, officially counted just 10 rapes per hundred thousand population in 2017, compared to 92 for England and Wales (Northern Ireland and Scotland therefore excluded). Another curiosity: In 2016, Montenegro recorded only two cases of rape on its territory, i.e. as many as Liechtenstein!

In order to better understand the differences between European countries, SOS Viol preferred to highlight the answers given during a European barometer in 2016. Specifically, respondents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the following statement: violence against women often provoked by the victim? It shows that there is a clear division between the old western and eastern blocs, with those in the east more likely to agree with this claim (as well as islands like Malta and Cyprus) .

@SOS rape

Further efforts need to be made in Belgium

Given all these elements, what should Belgium do to combat violence against women? This is the question asked by the feminist movement Soralia and the association of family planning centers of the Solidaris network, Sofélia. In a press release, they first acknowledge, beyond efforts to acknowledge the notion of feminicide, “the will of the political world to put the fight against violence against women on the agenda, in particular through the adoption of various plans such as the national action plan to combat gender-based violence 2021-2025, the French domestic plan to combat violence against women 2020-2024 or the Brussels plan to combat violence against women 2020-2024“Since June 1, 2022, a reform of the sex penal code has also been in force.

However, Soralia and Sofélia regret that overall “70% of these complaints are closed without follow-up“and this is the news”The definition of consent explains what is not consent and not what it is“Another problem revealed: the new reform of the sex penal code”presents only “curative” measures on gender-based violence“.”However, we know that prevention is essential, which is why we are committed to ensuring that Education in Relationship, Emotional and Sexual Life (EVRAS) is generalized from an early age and every year in education.“, explains their press release. Finally, Soralia and Sofélia denounce the undervaluation of specific violence as perpetrated “Women with disabilities, older women, women (identified as) lesbians and bisexuals, ‘racialized’ women or women (identified as) migrants“.

To overcome these difficulties, the press release proposes several additional solutions. There is “the collection of reliable and detailed data on violence“, raising awareness among frontline workers (medical staff, legal entities, social workers, etc.) or even “establishing a set of best practices to welcome, support and guide these women, often from atypical backgrounds“. In this regard, a “White Ribbon” campaign will be organized from November 25 to December 6 to raise awareness and inform the public.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button