Expatica news

One in five Belgian women a victim of domestic violence

25 November 2004

BRUSSELS – Amnesty International has launched a campaign to combat domestic violence, a problem affecting one in five Belgian women.

“If we don’t want to see it, we don’t see it,” says the Amnesty slogan, which has chosen the theme as the centrepiece of its annual campaign for human rights day on 10 December, several papers reported on Thursday.

The human rights NGO chose this year to break from the norm and focus on abuse in the European Union rather than abroad.

“Domestic violence is the biggest cause of death among under 40-year-old women in the European Union,” said Philippe Hensmans, director of the francophone branch of Amnesty Belgium.

“It is as if fundamental rights are left behind as soon as you step over the threshold of the home,” he added.

During a 1998 study on violence in Belgium, 68 percent of the 783 women questioned said they had experienced sexual or physical violence.

In 2002, a total of 2438 rapes were registered, according to the national institute of statistics, which translates as an average of seven rapes every day.

According to Amnesty, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Amnesty says it wants to make the public more aware of the problem domestic violence as every citizen is knowingly or unknowingly in contact with victims.

Many victims keep quiet because they are afraid of the consequences of speaking out and feel guilty if they do so.

Amnesty and broadcaster Bel RTL are conducting an “SOS women” event this weekend, where victims of abuse can call helplines anonymously to ask for advice.

The phone lines will be open from 8.30 to 13.00 on Saturday, on 070 344 050.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news