Ghent pub rape incidents trigger demonstration

Six hundred people took part in a demonstration against sexual aggression in Ghent on Sunday.  Protesters headed to city hall with a letter demanding action.  In the letter from Meldet, an organisation that maps out sexual violence, the demonstrators say the victims of two possible rape incidents deserve to be heard.

Both incidents are currently under investigation by Ghent public prosecutors.  In a first incident in October the drink of a woman may have been spiked in a pub on the Beestenmarkt.  The woman was later discovered in the Coyendans Park and is thought to have been raped.

A second incident was reported on Saturday morning.  An 18-year-old woman found in the city’s student neighbourhood says she was raped in a pub called Elixir. The woman reported the rape to the police, who are taking the matter seriously and intend to investigate the matter thoroughly. Police are examining pub CCTV footage.  The victim was taken to the care centre for sexual violence at Ghent University hospital.

Pub owners in the student neighbourhood support Meldet’s open letter to the Ghent authorities. They say they wish to co-operate in combating a rape culture in which unacceptable behaviour is normalised.

The pub owners add that since the reopening of hospitality in October they have noticed an increase in unacceptable behaviour. 

Bar customers are seeking reassurance they can take the matter up with bar staff when they experience unacceptable behaviour.  

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