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Brussels commits to providing greater security for women
Brussels city council has unanimously approved a motion on Monday evening calling for the further integration of the safety and well-being of women into the city’s policy implementation strategy, especially in the area of public space development.
Dubbed "Safe in the City", the motion was proposed by opposition municipal councillors Bianca Debaets and David Weytsman and co-signed by members of the municipal majority.
The motion includes proposals for more public toilets for women, the feminisation of more public spaces (including the renaming of parks, squares, street names), the installation of safe breastfeeding areas in public places, and the improvement of lighting in areas of the city to promote a feeling of security and safety.
"It is essential to think much more about women and their different needs when designing public space,” commented Bianca Debaets and David Weytsman. “Fighting for the security of women and against situations that increase feelings of insecurity is just as fundamental.”
For Bianca Debaets, the City of Brussels, like other major cities, is not sufficiently "women-friendly". There are too many places where many women do not dare to venture because they do not feel safe there.
The same goes for comfort zones. "To find a public toilet or a place to breastfeed your child quietly, for example, these are the absolute basics when we're talking about natural needs,” he said. “Of course, in some respects, the City needs to work with and discuss these issues with other players such as the region or Stib, but it is really essential that we act as soon as possible," she added.
Weytsman pointed out that, according to various studies, 98% of women say they have experienced sexism in public, which is "unacceptable" and makes the fight to make the city much safer, a priority. In his view, this includes a clearer identification of problem areas, via digital tools or police reports, to adapt them accordingly or to provide more prevention and security personnel.
The street lighting and security camera networks also need to be redesigned. Improvements will benefit women, but also other vulnerable sections of society, such as the elderly or the LGBTQI community.