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Activists against sexual violence call for a boycott of Brussels nightlife

Illustration picture shows a protest march following multiple testimonies of victims of sexual violence in two bars in the 'cimetiere d'Ixelles - Begraafplaats van Elsene' quarter in Brussels, Thursday 14 October 2021. (BELGA PHOTO JULIETTE BRUYNSEEL)S
05:27 09/11/2021

Several feminist activists are calling for a boycott of all Brussels bars and clubs on Friday, urging people to join their "Nightlife Blackout" protest against sexual violence in the capital.

"We want to hit the operators in their wallets," the activists say. Instead of attending bars and cafes, the activists call on people to join them at their demonstration on Place de l'Albertine at 20.00.

A wave of testimonies from women who have been drugged in bars and cafes and then sexually abused have been flooding social media for over a month now, each carrying the hashtag #balancetonbar.

The protest movement was formed after numerous revelations of sexual violence in two cafés around the Ixelles cemetery, Waff and El Café, went public. Since then, many women across the country have testified that they have been drugged in and then abused in cafes and bars without their knowledge.

Feminist activists are therefore calling for a boycott of nightlife this Friday as part of the growing protests. They want to expose sexual violence and the lack of support for victims. Among others, the collectives Balance Ton Bar, Les Sous-Entendues and the Brussels art group 'That's what x said' will participate in the action, along with independent protestors. They have united within the interest group Union Féministe Intersectionnelle Autogérée (UFIA).

"I'll be there too," said Maïté Meeus of Balance Ton Bar, which has organised a number of protests in the city over the past few weeks. "We want a real boycott. The intention is that no one goes to the Brussels bars or clubs on Friday. This way we can hit the operators in their wallets, so that they would really act."

In a video posted on Facebook, the activists explain that their "anger knows no bounds. We are organised". They reiterate that this kind of violence has been going on for far too long and that they have decided to intervene to stop it.

"Let's make it clear that enough is enough," the Nightlife Blackout activists state.

Written by Nick Amies