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Violent crime against sex workers on the rise in Brussels' North District

14:23 19/12/2023

An "alarming" rise in violence in the Brussels-North district has followed the legalisation of sex work, according to Utsopi, the union representing sex workers.

Those workers are increasingly reporting physical, sexual and verbal violence, Utsopi said, with acts committed by clients or people in the vicinity.

“Sex workers are being burgled, robbed, stabbed and even shot,” said Utsopi coordinator Nadia, adding that the affected women practise their trade “with fear in their stomachs”.

Utsopi said that this rise in violence is having repercussions not only for sex workers, but also for the entire network of aid associations working in the district.

Espace P, an association that provided support for drug users in the northern district for 35 years, was recently forced to close.

The decriminalisation of sex work came into force in Belgium in March 2022 and was expected to lead to a decrease in violence against sex workers at Brussels-North.

Now Utsopi is calling for a more protective legislative framework for sex workers, along with more concrete measures from authorities to curb the violence.

“The decriminalisation of sex work by the Belgian government a year and a half ago was a milestone. But violence against sex workers persists,” Utsopi said.

The call for help was echoed in a march that takes place annually on 17 December, the International Day Against Violence Against Sex Workers.

Utsopi is especially concerned about sex workers who do not have legal residence in Belgium, pointing out that they often do not report crimes for fear of being deported or detained.

Even sex workers who do reside legally in Belgium are often wary of reporting crimes committed against them, Utsopi said, because "they are afraid of losing their anonymity, that their complaint will not be believed, or that the perpetrator will go free".

“This fear is justified – the police have the right to detain people without legal residence for 24 hours pending a decision by the immigration department,” the union said, calling for measures to eliminate these barriers to reporting.

“Sex workers who are victims of violence or exploitation should not be afraid of detention or deportation when they seek the help of the police.”

Written by Helen Lyons



I am sure the crime against these employees come from illegal immigrants who are on the raise in Belgium and Europe. Why on earth will a legal immigrant commit any crime? I think entire EU should follow Poland foot steps of ZERO illegal immigrants to reduce crime (especially against woman who are the target most of the time)! Like most of the other EU nations, Belgium also seems to lack courage to take up the challenge. Illegal immigrants are different from refugees.

Dec 20, 2023 10:39