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Brussels takes more steps to make nightlife safer

The Grand Place in Brussels at night (Pixabay/Free licence)
06:02 02/03/2022

The regional agency has launched a call for projects aimed at making the capital’s nightlife safer. A budget of €200,000 is available to distribute between associations that are active in the fight against sexual harassment. The aim is to speed up the start-up of new initiatives or to support existing projects.

"This call for projects for the association sector is intended to make hospitality businesses safer, more inclusive and more welcoming," explains state secretary for equal opportunities Nawal Ben Hamou. "The proposed projects can be continuations or extensions of existing initiatives: sustainability, cooperation and a very broad impact are fundamental."

The projects will be evaluated by, in consultation with a panel of experts from the Brussels Night Council and the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men.

The call for projects is part of the Brussels government's action plan to combat sexual harassment and sexual violence in nightlife. A total budget of €610,000 has been earmarked for this purpose. Within this framework, €200,000 will go to to financially strengthen associations that are committed to prevention and support.

The call for projects is open until 30 April 2022, for projects that can start from 1 October 2022.

Recently, the City of Brussels unveiled a 77-point plan to act against harassment and sexual violence in bars and dance venues, under the campaign slogan "Nothing without my consent". In particular, the city will intervene to ensure that specialised staff are trained in each establishment which is open at night, that they are present and identifiable on site, ready to intervene and raise awareness.

The city wants to establish a "safe zone" in each place open after midnight, adaptable to the event in question. These safe zones will be installed in venues to provide help and support and be available to clients in cases of harassment. Venues staging one-off or temporary events will need to provide a safe zone as part of its application for a licence. It will be a condition of authorisation from the local authorities.

"We were alerted by the Balance Ton Bar movement," the mayor of the City of Brussels Philippe Close said last week on Bel RTL radio. "We must free the voice of the victims and tell men that they must change. Because I remember that at the beginning of the movement, we doubted and failed to take the testimonies seriously enough."

A nightlife "charter" is also being proposed, which will "first be discussed with everyone", the mayor added.

Written by Nick Amies