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Brussels universities join up to fight rape culture
The Free Universities of Brussels, French-speaking ULB and Dutch-speaking VUB, are co-operating for A Week to Fight Rape Culture. This week, the universities will host talks, exhibitions and other activities designed to share stories and raise awareness around sexual assault and harassment.
The last several weeks have given rise to worldwide accusations of sexual intimidation and violence against women, starting with the dozens of victims of Hollywood production mogul Harvey Weinstein, which led to the #metoo social media campaign.
Last week Flemish public broadcaster VRT cancelled a programme hosted by popular celebrity Bart De Pauw and broke all ties with him after some 10 women produced evidence of harassment and stalking behaviour. Antwerp’s magristrate is now investigating to see if legal charges should be brought.
A Week to Fight Rape Culture, however, had already been planned, a follow-up of a 2016 exhibition hosted by student Selma Bouillard who had been raped four years earlier. Three other sexual assault survivors have joined her to form GRape Project, which is running this week’s event.
“Sexual assault is still a taboo subject,” Bouillard, 23, told De Standaard. “We want to break through that, at the universities but also outside of them.”
The central exhibition at ULB and VUB features clothing that was worn by women and men when they were raped or assaulted as well as photographs of them with words and phrases written on their bodies. These includes “Incassable” (Unbreakable) and “Only yes means yes”.
“The images are confronting, but they show that victims don’t just give up. We aren’t sad, little victims whose lives have come to an end. We go on, and we become stronger.”
Photo: Chloé de Meulenaer