Sharp increase in reported rape cases in Belgium

Rape is all the rage it seems. This news article reports a >20% increase in the number of reported rape cases in Belgium between 2009 and 2011.

Click here to get the wiki on Belgium

The article is in Dutch, and I couldn’t find it English anywhere yet, so let me provide you with a translation:

Between 2009 and 2011, the number of reported rapes increased from 3,360 to 4,038, an increase of more than 20%. Almost half or the cases was dismissed due to insufficient evidence. The newspaper bases its report on figures from the federal justice department (I am not familiar with Belgian state structure, I might have translated this wrong).

A total of 11,170 rape cases were filed at the district attorneys between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2011. Brussels is the worst with 2,542 cases: almost a quarter of all cases, followed by Ghent, Liège and Antwerp. A strong increase in the number of cases between 2009 and 2011 has been found in all jurisdictions.

More than 11 rapes took place every day in Belgium in 2011. Senator Inge Faes of the New Flemish Alliance, who requested the figures from the minsiter of Justice, Annemie Turtleboom (Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats) calls it a “regretful evolution”.

Here is a list of rape figures per capita in the world, and it seems that before this sharp increase, in 2008, Belgium was very high on the list of highest number of rape cases reported per capita too. What is happening?

Update: Because the northern neighbours of Belgium are missing from that list, I dug them up from the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics (this table, the relevant keyword is “verkrachting”). The incidence of reported rape in the Netherlands dropped from 0.12 per 1000 inhabitants in 2009 to 0,10 in 2011. The Netherlands have roughly 1.6 times the number of inhabitants, and where Belgium reported 11,170 cases between 2009 and 2011, the Dutch had 5075 in the same period. I am puzzled by the difference: I don’t perceive Belgium to be that much different from the Netherlands.

7 thoughts on “Sharp increase in reported rape cases in Belgium

  1. Has there been an effort in Belgium to encourage more people to step forward and report that they have been raped? Given the chronic under-reporting of rape, it seems entirely possible that an increase in reported rapes represents an increase in reporting rates rather than an increase in the number of victims.

    Perhaps there are local police efforts to encourage reporting that is not being repeated in the Netherlands?

  2. My initial thought was the same as Matt’s. An increase in reported rapes could indicate an increase in rape, and increase in women willing to report it, or some combination of the two. If it were the latter, that might actually signal progress rather than regress.

  3. I live in Belgium (excuse me for my imperfect English). It could be because in that time we had some scandals about sex crimes: mostly paedophilia in the church and also some people in high places who abused their power against the women who worked for them. Most of those cases were to long ago to put them into jail but a lot of people who were silent before now told their stories. I hope that clears a few things up.
    I’m really chocked by the number by the way, 11/day in such a small country…

  4. Such a significant change in a short time, particularly if it occurs without an obvious real-world cause and is not reflected in neighbouring or comparable jurisdictions, could also result (at least in part) from artificial changes to what is being measured. In this case, for example, it would be worth asking whether a change occurred in what counts as a “reported rape case” in Belgium for purposes of gathering this data.

  5. I have been thinking the same, Matt, Danielle, Nemo, but one would think that officials would hasten to provide the public with such information when those figures come to light. Maybe not.
    What Lisa said though, we have comparable cases. The catholic church abuses, and a recent horrendous paedophilia case, and yet our figures seem to have gone down.
    I am still puzzled.

  6. Re “I am puzzled by the difference: I don’t perceive Belgium to be that much different from the Netherlands.” – Belgium has Brussels. Brussels has all the EU institutions, full of diplomats, lobbyists and other big-shots. Maybe there are more rapists among them?

    When a small country has the capital of the European Union, comparing it to other countries on the same continent may be a bit unfair. Without knowing what the rape rates are in different parts of Belgium, this statistic is of not much (comparative) use.

  7. Belgium has little in common with the Netherlands. I am a Brit and have lived in both.

    When compared, Belgium comes out with significantly higher unemployment, greater poverty and wider gap between rich and poor. There is a terrible lack of investment in infrastructure.
    Sexist seems common place and acceptable. I was shocked when I moved from NL to BE.
    Finally I see a difference in mentally between the francophones and the nederlandophones.

    With lewd comment, daily cat calling and weekly attempts by guys trying to chat me up when I am walking home from work, on the phone, or just minding my own business, I’ve found where I live I have to be continually on my guard. I have lived in Liege and Brussels.
    It is an odd place that makes me think of Italy (sans weather ) and corrupt eastern Europeans countries, with the corrupt part being usually in Wallonia.

    The Netherlands is quite the opposite. I don’t think you could really compare them well.

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