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20,000 join Antwerp silent march after murder of young woman
More than 20,000 people joined a silent march through Antwerp on Sunday against violence towards women, following the murder of a 23-year-old woman in the city last week.
Student Julie Van Espen's body was found in the Albert canal last Monday. She had left her home in Schilde on Saturday evening on her bike, heading to see friends in the city centre, but never arrived.
Police soon identified a suspect from nearby security cameras. He has confessed to the crime and has previous convictions for rape.
Organisers said the citizens' march was apolitical. They asked politicians wanting to take part to do so in a personal capacity, with elections in Belgium taking place in just two weeks.
Social media users adopted the hashtag #Enough to show their support.
A minute's silence was held ahead of Antwerp's football league playoff against Anderlecht on Sunday. Antwerp fans cheered in the 23rd minute of the match, a reference to the victim's age.
Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga