Marc Vanden Bussche, the mayor of the North Sea resort town of Koksijde, decided to bring the matter before City Hall after two teenage girls said they had been sexually assaulted by local asylum seekers, Nieuwsblad reported on Sunday.The Daily Mail earlier wrote that asylum-seekers in Belgium are to be given lessons in civilized flirting so that they learn to respect women.
The guidance is an attempt to avoid a repeat of the New Year attacks on women in Cologne, Germany, the newspaper wrote.n March this year, the Belgian parliament passed the Anti-Sexism Act (Antiseksismewet), which bans sexist speech from public life, be it in books, magazines or on the internet.The new law is bound to raise countless problems, and not just in Belgium.For as long as there is someone in Belgium who is exposed to speech they deem ‘sexist’, under the terms of the new law it will be possible for that individual to instigate criminal proceedings.This means that any speech or form of expression that merely reaches Belgium could be subject to prosecution.While it is unlikely that anyone will ever be extradited to Belgium to face sexist-speech charges, the new law still raises the spectre of international censorship.
So Belgian broadcasters and internet service providers may be forced to block websites, and vendors could be prohibited from disseminating books and magazines.
There is also the possibility that this law will, at the very least, curtail the holiday options of anyone outside of Belgium unfortunate enough to find himself accused of engaging in sexist speech.
In large part, the law was a response to Femme de la Rue, a 2012 documentary by filmmaker Sofie Peeters. The film prompted widespread public debate in Belgium, with several politicians vowing to act on the issue.
The film focused on the problem of sexual harassment in Brussels, and was partly shot using hidden cameras. While no one disputes that sexist street harassment needs to be addressed, there are numerous legal means already available to the authorities to tackle this problem, from existing prohibitions on stalking, to laws against harassment and public nuisance.
It provided an eye-opening account of everyday sexism and sexual intimidation in the Belgian capital, featuring continuous catcalls and wolf whistles, and frequent jeers of ‘whore! In other words, the problem is not the legislation, but a failure to enforce it.
Tellingly, even Peeters herself has cautioned against enacting the new law, as have feminist groups and the director of the Centre for Equal Opportunities.