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New street to be named after murdered sex worker Eunice Osayande

16:47 14/09/2021

Brussels-City will name a new street connecting the Quai des Péniches and Quai de Willebroeck after Eunice Osayande, who was murdered in the area in 2018. Osayande was a sex worker who died at the hands of a 17-year-old client behind North Station.

Osayande, who was 24 when she was killed, was brought to Brussels by a ring of human traffickers, with the promise of housing and work in Europe. She and a group of other young women were threatened, raped and forced to undergo rituals to convince them to be loyal to their captors.

Once in Brussels, Osayande was put in a derelict apartment and forced into prostitution. She owed not only €45,000 to be smuggled into Belgium but weekly rent for the housing.

Osayande’s death sent shock waves through the community of sex workers in Brussels and especially the red light district in the northern quarter. It led to demands that safety be improved and that the municipalities of Saint-Josse and Schaerbeek create clear legal guidelines for the sector and its offenders.

‘All women’s rights’

A teenager was arrested for her murder and is still awaiting trial. Several members of the trafficking ring were also arrested and received prison sentences of between 2.5 and four years. In the aftermath of the killing and the arrests, three other women could escape the same situation.

The city chose to name the street after Osayande in recognition of all the women victimised by sexual violence and femicide. “The municipality has been striving to name more streets after women,” said Ans Persoons, city councillor in charge of urban development. “We have always opted for notable – but often forgotten – women with exceptional talent or remarkable achievements.”

But feminism is about “all women’s rights and struggles,” she continues. “Some 42% of women between the ages of 16 and 69 have experienced physical sexual violence at some point. This percentage is much higher among sex workers. The struggle to bring down these mind-bogglingly high numbers deserves more attention and urgency. And that’s why Eunice Osayande gets a street today.”

Photo ©Ophelie Delarouzee/BELGA

 

Written by Lisa Bradshaw