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The Plan of Brussels on combatting violence against women

Translated from the French article written by Karim Fadoul

It was such a great news that the Brussels Plan to combat violence against women was adopted in June 2020, but we know that the devil is in the details.

We just got the first evaluation of the Plan by the responsible authority and here is a quick snapshot about the critics:

The Brussels Plan contains 56 actions that must be implemented by the regional government. It intends to initiate policies aimed at combating violence against women on a daily basis and in a concrete way, in all areas. Training of civil servants, sexual harassment at work, creation of emergency services. The Brussels Council for Equality between Women and Men (CEFH) has issued its interim report on the actions of the Brussels Plan to combat violence against women.

The report mentions that "certain populations are forgotten or little highlighted, such as young people, elderly women, precarious workers, migrant women." No priority defined The CEFH "welcomes the government's commitment to the realization of a plan [...]". If the plan takes up "all the actions in a structured plan encompassing all the regional competences", it however lacks a "regional and integrated political vision of the fight against violence". Prevention, protection, prosecution and coordinated policies: on these four aspects, the plan does not define any priorities.

"The absence of such a structure does not therefore make it possible to compare the evaluation of the plan with the plans of other entities or other countries, nor to monitor the regional policy for the fight against violence over time. It also leaves in the shadow whole areas of skills in the fight against violence, in particular that of health, and that of the fight for the financial autonomy of women, "adds the CEFH.

Social inequalities and medical violence The Council had said so in an opinion dated 2020, in the midst of the Covid crisis: poverty generates and contributes to increasing sexist and sexual violence. "It therefore seems illusory to us to want to fight against violence against women without fighting at the same time for the economic and financial autonomy of women and against social inequalities in general. In this context, the employment policy, but also, the issues of quality and accessibility of public and collective services, in particular childcare, do not seem sufficiently developed to us […] With less economic and financial autonomy, women have fewer resources to stand up to aggressors, in their private or professional life." The CEFH also regrets that the question of "the fight against violence in the medical pathway and inequalities in care are not addressed. However, whether on the issues of obstetric violence, or care pathways, sexism is still here." In terms of education and training, the Council also regrets the lack of a global vision, particularly in schools since kindergarten. He also points to inaccuracies in budgetary matters and, while he welcomes the cross-cutting work between administrations and ministerial cabinets, "some skills are more active than others".

Youth The Plan speaks little about the youth, women with immigrant background, domestic workers, or women who take care of dependent elderly people, as well as elderly women… "The recent movements led by young Brussels women to denounce the violence they experience, whether in the school context, public spaces and transport or at night (notably denounced by the recent phenomenon 'balance your bar '), demonstrate the importance of taking young people into account when thinking about violence." As a reminder, 2 out of 3 young women say they have already experienced violence (according to a survey by the Youth Forum dating from 2020).

Prostitution Another omission: violence against sex workers "little addressed" and requiring consideration. "Prostitution is violence and it contributes to the culture of rape", observes the CEFH. The Council would also like a plan with a more intersectional vision and that incorporates inclusive writing. The report of the Brussels Council for Equality between Women and Men is only an interim assessment. It takes a look at the initiatives carried out by each minister and secretary of state according to their skills.

It should be noted that this report is being discussed at a time when the Brussels government has just granted a subsidy of €250,000 to support four associative projects, this time within the framework of the Brussels government's action plan to combat harassment and sexual violence in the nightlife, decided in December 2021. These four projects mainly concern training intended for the festive environment in Brussels (bars, clubs, concert halls, etc.) and workers in the restaurants and bars.


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