External Flemish hotline for transgressive behaviour to start in September
The central Flemish reporting point for transgressive behaviour will start in September. The hotline will handle reports of discrimination and sexual harassment as well as complaints and reports of violence and persistent intimidation.
The Flemish Human Rights Institute (VMRI) will work with the Justice and Enforcement Agency. Ministers of Justice Zuhal Demir (N-VA) and Interior Bart Somers (Open VLD) announced the news on Tuesday.
The creation og a hotline has been the subject of extensive discussions following testimonies about transgressive behaviour in higher education. Minister of Education Ben Weyts (N-VA) reached an agreement last year on establishing an independent external hotline. At the beginning of this year, it was announced that a hotline would be set up for all sectors, not just education.
In addition to first-line assistance and mediation, there is room for therapeutic and legal support.
"You must be able to feel safe regardless of where you are and with whom you associate"
"We thought it was essential not just to set up yet another hotline, but to really listen to the needs of victims in the various sectors and to supplement everything that already exists," said Demir.
"Transgressive behaviour is unacceptable. You must be able to feel safe regardless of where you are and with whom you associate. There will be one external hotline where everyone can go with complaints about intimidation, discrimination, violence or harassment," added Somers.
Flemish MP Katrien Schryvers (CD&V), who has been calling for a central reporting point for some time, criticised how the initiative was being handled. "Every few weeks, we hear and read different information about the external hotline," she said. "What should victims think of all this? The tug-of-war over establishing an external hotline for transgressive behaviour and the succession of contradictory messages are absolutely not OK. Sending victims from pillar to post this way gives them the feeling that they are not being taken seriously. They really deserve better than that."
#FlandersNewsService | Flemish Justice minister Zuhal Demir © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT