State of the Streets: Brussels

“I personally feel I walk differently on the streets now. There’s a strength that wasn’t there before, and that’s all thanks to Hollaback.” – Ingrid Vanderhoeven

Angelika Hild, Julie Richel, Ingrid Vanderhoeven, and Anna Whaley started Hollaback! Brussels because they wanted to make their community a better place to live.  They celebrated their site launch with a flash mob, and have since been working with partner organizations like Outrage, which focuses on ending harassment of LGBT individuals, Garance, which specializes in violence prevention, and Zij-kant, a sociocultural movement focused on gender and equal rights.  Hollaback! Brussels has seen an outpouring of support from their community, which helped make their 2nd Chalk-Walk (Reclaim the Streets) this past June a huge success (Their First Chalk-Walk was held in March, serving as an event for the International Anti-Street-Harassment Week , but also serving as a pre-launch ritual for the four site leaders). During the Chalk-Walk in June, members & volunteers of Hollaback! Brussels covered streets and sidewalks with eye-catching slogans advocating for a harassment-free city. In the next year, Angelika looks forward to continuing to meet with government leaders, and is excited by the upcoming opportunity to speak at a session of Parliament. Angelika notes that, “More and more politicians want to meet us and are recognizing that street harassment is a problem.” Brussels’ Parliament Members Yamilla Idrissi and Bianca Debaets have recently contacted and declared their support for Hollaback! Brussels. MP Yamilla Idrissi spoke up in Parliament on the subject of sexual violence and street harassment asking what the Parliament intended to do about it and mentioned Hollaback! Brussels as a great initiative in the fight against these issues.  As a result, Equal Opportunity Minister Pascal Smet said he intended to lead a year-long project to map incidents of sexual violence, street harassment and homophobia in an attempt to better understand the roots of misogyny and homophobia in Brussels.

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