8 March 2005
BRUSSELS – Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx marked International Women’s Day by focusing media attention on initiatives to tackle domestic violence.
On Tuesday, the Belgian press reported that Onkelinx had organised a conference on violence in the home which had highlighted some of the most effective new ideas for protecting women and men beaten by their partners.
Spanish Justice Minister Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar was among those who participated in the day in Brussels, informing delegates 73 women were killed in his country in 2003.
La Derniere Heure reported that Belgium also has a problem, even if the situation is “less tragic”.
“The official statistics are equally frightening,” noted the Belgian daily.
“The number of blows and deliberate injuries in the home between partners and ex-partners is particularly worrying,” said Onkelinx.
There were 9,611 cases in 2003, which means 12.54 percent of violence was domestic.
The minister believes that figure under represents the actual scale of domestic violence in Belgium.
She said she wants to implement better means of measuring how effective authorities’ methods are at tackling the problem and to keep track of its scale.
“According to a study carried out in 1998, one out of seven women and one out of 40 men will suffer serious physical or sexual violence from their partner,” stated Onkelinx.
The minister wants prosecutors to copy the practices of the Liege and Antwerp offices where domestic violence is treated seriously.
In Ghent, La Derniere Heure reported that the police have been using a new scheme to protect women who have clearly dangerous ex-partners.
Since September 2002, 10 transmitters have been available for use in serious cases.
Women are given a necklace which can send a signal directly to the police station.
“The advantage of this system is to ensure an immediate reaction from the police, who will be at the scene within 10 minutes, while it would take more time if the women had to call the usual 101,” explained Nienke Kiekens, who manages the scheme.
Meanwhile, Le Soir, in its report for International Women’s Day, focused attention on the fact that women are still suffering discrimination in the workplace and still do twice the amount of household chores.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news