Indecent assault is any forced sexual act without penetration. The victim does not give consent to this act. For example: unwanted touching, caressing or kissing, forcing a person to undress or show his/her genitals.
Indecent assault can happen without physical violence or threats. For instance: if the victim does not resist and lets it happen because he/she is afraid.
In Belgium, indecent assault is forbidden by law.
The punishment for indecent assault is 6 months’ to 15 years’ imprisonment, depending on:
- the gravity of the assault;
- whether there was physical violence or threats;
- the age of the victim.
Rape is forced sexual intercourse or oral sex with penetration. The penetration can happen with part of the body or an object. The victim does not give consent to this act. Rape can happen without physical violence or threats. For instance: if the victim does not resist and lets it happen because he/she is afraid.
There are never mitigating circumstances. This means that nothing will be accepted by the judge as an excuse for rape. For example: the behaviour of the victim, how she/he is dressed, what she/he says or does, are never an excuse for rape.
In the case of an adult victim, the punishment is 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment. If the victim is a child or in case of other aggravating circumstances, the punishment is 20 to 30 years’ imprisonment.
It is important not to wait to seek help. Maybe a friend or somebody you trust can help you.
Your family doctor can treat you and write a report for the police.
You can also go to the police immediately to file a complaint. They are obliged to respect your privacy. If you are afraid of further violence, the police can protect you. The police are obliged to treat you in a respectful and correct way.
If you go to the police within 72 hours, they can do a medical examination to find evidence from the perpetrator. They look for sperm and blood, but also for other traces under your nails, in your hair and on your clothes. The examination takes 1.5 to 2 hours. The police send the samples to a lab for testing.
You can also have this medical examination at a Sexual Violence Care Centre (Zorgcentrum na seksueel geweld). You can also go there for medical and psychological help and to file a complaint, even if 72 hours have passed from the occurrence. You can find all of the services in 1 place at a Sexual Violence Care Centre.
Each CAW (Centre for General Well-being) has a special service you can go to called Slachtofferhulp (victim care). They can go with you to the police, a doctor or a court. When you go to a CAW, you do not have to give your name. You can get help and advice anonymously and free of charge.
According to the law, if you are without a residence permit, the police have to treat you with the same respect as other victims. However, the police could arrest you because of your residence status. Therefore, it is best to be accompanied by a professional from a CAW or from another social organisation.
Help for perpetrators
If you feel you have been violent in a relationship or you feel there is a risk that you will become violent towards another person, you can seek help. Therapy can help you to talk about your feelings and behaviour and to prevent you from becoming violent (again).