In Belgium, the #balancetonbar movement is gaining momentum

“I wake up and I don’t know where I am. There are five or six guys around me. I recognize the waiters at the hotel bar, with whom we had made friends the day before. And then I smell. One of them, a big one, has his fingers inside. I tell myself that I have to move, but I can’t. I just manage to say no. They laugh. And then it’s the black hole again. “ The story dates back to 2012 and takes place in Barcelona, ​​more than 1,000 kilometers from this terrace of a bar in Place Flagey, in Brussels, where Léa (the first name has been changed at her request) has just ordered a beer. . But it is a protest movement born in Belgium, a month ago, which has allowed him to put words into his experience.

“I told myself that I had looked for him, as I was a little wanton. I never thought these guys were gross, that I had been drugged or sexually assaulted. Up to #balancetonbar », explains this young woman in one go, as if not to let the cold turn her words into mist. Or guilt sets in.

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In Belgium, since the creation, in mid-October, of the page Instagram Balance ton bar, testimonies on cases of GHB poisoning, the date rape drug, and sexual violence suffered in bars, are pouring in, pushing several feminist collectives to unite to demand political, legal and societal change. “We can only note that these are no longer isolated facts, but indeed systemic sexual violence”, declares the Inclusive and Self-Governing Feminist Union (UFIA).

In a letter sent, Monday, November 8, to the nineteen municipalities of Brussels, this organization just created for the occasion, asking for measures, such as raising the awareness of those involved in events and the mobilization of the police. “We will not stop until concrete actions are taken”, she warns. After a demonstration which brought together 1,300 people, a call to boycott bars was launched for November 12.

Tips for “avoiding problems”

It all started with a message relayed in early October on social networks, which ensures that two girls were “Drugged and raped” by a waiter at El Café, a bar in the student district of the Ixelles cemetery. The case is far from being elucidated and is in the hands of the Brussels public prosecutor’s office. Still, she released the floor. “Being able to say that I suffered something serious, violent, made me feel good”, confides Anna (the first name has been changed), who testified about this July evening at El Café, during which she was drugged. Quickly, several establishments in the capital, then in the country, were targeted. “It could have remained a local news item, but it immediately established itself as a topical fact”, observes journalist Marine Guiet, who is investigating this phenomenon.

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In Belgium, the #balancetonbar movement is gaining momentum