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Thousands join Brussels march against violence towards women

08:57 28/11/2022

A demonstration in Brussels to protest violence against women attracted several thousand people this weekend.

The protest was held on Sunday to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which is 25 November.

“There is no such thing as a small amount of violence against women,” the Mirabal platform, which brings together civil society organisations, said.

Mirabal said it welcomed and supported the federal government's recent bill, which codifies feminicide (the murder of women for gender-related reasons, also written as femicide) as a crime and will allow for the collection of related statistics.

So far, that data has been collected by the volunteers behind the blog ‘Stop Feminicide’, who have counted 175 femicides in Belgium since 2017, with 20 of those murders taking place in 2022 alone.

“This is just the most extreme expression of the different forms of violence that women continue to suffer in our country, including physical, sexual, economic, psychological and institutional,” Mirabal said.

On its website, Mirabel lays out a series of demands, including: the integration of a gender dimension into urban planning to better ensure the safety of women in public spaces; the establishment of a procedure guaranteeing the right of any victim of gender violence, even if they are in an irregular situation, to lodge a complaint; and ongoing training for the police, the judiciary and frontline care services in the continuum of sexual, family and gender-based violence.

The organisation says that women who are single parents should be given better rights, and that the right for women to have an abortion must be safeguarded and expanded from up to 12 weeks of pregnancy to up to 18 weeks.

One in four women worldwide has been a victim of violence in a relationship, according to the World Health Organisation.

The freephone number for victims of domestic violence seeking help in Belgium is 0800 30 030.

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga

Written by Helen Lyons