Sexual violence is an unwanted sexual act or activity. An act or activity is sexual violence when:
- it is not done with consent: at least one of the partners did not agree to engage in the activity and/or;
- there is coercion: one of the partners is forced and/or;
- the partners are not equals. For instance: one partner has more power than the other, one of the partners is younger than 18 or has a disability.
Some forms of sexual violence are:
- sexual harassment;
- indecent assault and rape;
- honour-based violence;
- female genital mutilation;
- forced prostitution;
- forced marriage.
The person who commits sexual violence is most often a person known to the victim or a trusted person such as a family member, partner or friend. It can also be a complete stranger.
Sexual violence is forbidden by law in Belgium and can be punished. There are never mitigating circumstances. This means that nothing will be accepted by the judge as an excuse for sexual violence. For example: the behaviour of the victim, how she/he is dressed, what she/he says or does are never an excuse for sexual violence.