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Security to be increased at Cinquantenaire in response to sexual assaults

Illustration picture shows a press visit to the Jubelpark - Parc du Cinquantenaire after a renovation in Brussels, Thursday 05 March 2020. (BELGA PHOTO LOAN SILVESTRE)
09:50 02/02/2021

Security in the Parc du Cinquantenaire has been stepped up following the sexual assault of a woman a few days ago, the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, and the mayor of Etterbeek, Vincent de Wolf, announced on Monday.

"It is unacceptable for women to feel insecure in the middle of the capital,” the two mayors said in a joint statement. “We encourage people to report the facts by filing a complaint.

"The protection of women in public spaces is at the heart of our zonal security plan and our city, and it is with this in mind that the police services of the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles area and the Montgomery area will collaborate with IBGE, the park's manager."

The mayors also stated that they will also request a preventive technical audit of the park in order to install, for example, additional lighting.

The issue of sexual assaults in the park was brought into the public domain again recently after a young female lawyer was almost raped there at around 21.00 on 22 January. The woman started a petition against sexual violence, which has already been signed 9,000 times.

The lawyer responded to Monday’s statement by saying it was already a first step in the right direction. Yet she believes that politicians are still focusing too much on short-term solutions. "I am delighted with the news,” she said.” "Any improvement is welcome, but hopefully there will be changes in the long term."

Police are aware of four attempted sexual assaults in the park over the past two years, and patrols are regularly made. The mayors have since asked the local police zones to increase their presence in the park.

Nevertheless, the municipal authorities reiterate the importance of reporting sexual violence, not only to be able to guide the search for the perpetrators but also to enable the victim to access the necessary care.

"Sexual violence centres are adapted structures that provide medical care, psychological follow-up and the ability to file a complaint with the police on the spot, all with specialised staff," the mayors stressed.

Written by Nick Amies