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Thousands join Brussels march against violence towards women

09:06 29/11/2023

More than 2,500 demonstrators participated in a Brussels rally over the weekend, marking the International Day against Violence towards Women on 25 November.

The initiative came from Mirabal Belgium, an umbrella organisation with more than 100 associations beneath it.

“For the seventh year in a row, we demonstrate our solidarity with the victims of violence and intent to force a more concrete and efficient commitment from the authorities,” the organisation said.

It added that while Belgium has signed and ratified the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence towards women and domestic violence and taken other steps forward, such as the femicide law and the six additional Care Centres After Sexual Violence, figures prove that this is still not enough.

“By 2022, there were at least 24 femicides, not counting one indirect femicide, and since registration began in 2017, there were 204 femicides and three indirect ones,” Mirabal Belgium said in its statement.

“These are women who were murdered just because they were women. Additionally, nearly 98% of women in Belgium say they have experienced sexist behaviour on the street or on public transport, and 60% say they have been victims of sexual harassment.”

The organisation formulates its demands within four areas of struggle: the fight against gender-based violence on women, consideration of vulnerable women, valuing 'female' professions and sectors, and sexual and reproductive health.

The weekend’s demonstration went largely without incident, apart from minor confusion on Rue de la Régence when some of the demonstrators, who were also protesting against the violence in the Gaza Strip, seemed to want to deviate from the predetermined route.

A bicycle brigade of the Brussels police intervened to cut them off and had to use tear gas. Later in the afternoon, Brussels police said that several would-be demonstrators had been arrested before they could participate.

“These were people who were carrying material with which they could cause damage to public buildings,” said spokesperson Ilse Van de Keere.

Photo: Antony Gevaert/Belga

Written by Helen Lyons