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Coronavirus: Action launched to protect women against domestic violence

Campaigns against domestic violence
14:22 30/03/2020

Lockdowns around the world are bringing a rise in domestic violence as households are forced into permanent cohabitation. In Belgium, concerns over vulnerable women trapped at home has led to federal and local action, reports RTBF.

An inter-ministerial working group, Women’s Rights, will discuss the issue via a video conference on 2 April. The group of 12 federal and regional ministers includes Belgian prime minister Sophie Wilmès.

Its objective is to make an initial assessment surrounding prevention, information, support and protection of victims, as well as repression and follow-up of perpetrators, announced Brussels-Capital Region’s secretary of state for housing and equal opportunities Nawal Ben Hamou (PS), on Sunday.

Reporting violence can be extremely difficult, said Hamou, the group’s president. "We must... develop forms of intervention and coordinated support in order to ensure, everywhere in Belgium, optimal protection for women victims of domestic violence… The objective here is to analyse the specific actions that have been developed or that should be developed at the national level."

The Brussels North police zone, covering the municipalities of Schaerbeek, Evere and Saint-Josse, announced a new domestic violence campaign on Sunday. It’s contacting by telephone everyone who has filed a domestic violence complaint in the past three months to tell them that they are not alone

It was an initiative welcomed by Josiane Coruzzi, director of Solidarité Femmes and the Refuge for battered women in La Louvière. She said other police zones could perhaps learn from it as she feared the negative impact of the stay-at-home measures on families: "Finding yourself 24 hours a day with a bored husband and children is a test anyway. But if the violence is already part of the family… there’s a risk of slipping into physical violence."

A similar concern led to the setting up of a task force by the Brussels and Wallonia regions, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (FWB) and the French Community Commission (Cocof), last Thursday. Aimed at ensuring that there are sufficient facilities for women who suddenly need to leave their home, it launched a communication campaign reiterating emergency numbers, including the free hotline: 0800/31.030.

 Photo: iStock/Getty Images Plus  

Written by Sarah Crew