Bouncer at Ixelles' El Café jailed for raping customer
A former worker at El Café in Brussels' popular student district around Ixelles Cemetery has been jailed for four years for rape.
The case, which dates back to the night of 1 March 2019, triggered the #BalanceTonBar movement and prompted a wave of testimonies from women on social media saying they too had suffered sexual violence at bars and cafes in the neighbourhood.
The bouncer, who was responsible for ushering customers out of El Café at the end of each night, was found guilty of forcing a female customer to have sex with him in the cafe's toilets.
A judge at Brussels Criminal Court followed the prosecutor's recommendations and sentenced the man to 50 months behind bars.
He must also pay the victim €8,500 in damages. He has 30 days to appeal.
Multiple claims of sexual harassment and violence at cafes around Ixelles Cemetery emerged last autumn, as women took to social media under the hashtag #BalanceTonBar.
Several feminist groups took part in a "nightlife blackout" - a boycott of Brussels bars and clubs - and 1,300 people joined a demonstration in protest.
In response, Ixelles announced plans to make its entertainment districts safer for women, working in consultation with women's groups.