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.

Oops, all male line up, sorry! we might just do it again?

Look at this conference on extended cognition and epistemology, not exactly a field where there are no women available whatsoever.

What is interesting is this quote from the site:

Apology :: The organizers of the conference sincerely regret the gender imbalance in the list of contributors. They admit that they should have, before the list of contributions became final, taken more proactive measures to guarantee a better gender balance in the special issue/conference line-up.

The “gender imbalance” being that all of the 11 speakers are male.

That’s indeed quite an “imbalance”.

What I miss in the “apology” (I guess I can put that in quotes too) is the intention to never let something as embarassing as this happen ever again. I probably should be happy they “regret” it in the first place?

Maybe I am overly sensitive.

Development in women’s position in Afghanistan

There’s a pretty horrendous story come out about a child bride, Sahar Gul (aged 15), in Afghanistan being tortured by her new in-laws in order to get her to become a prostitute. You can find the article here, but note there are some very unpleasant pics and scenes described.

The reason this is noteworthy is that this story occurred in an Afghan paper and Afghan people were apparently outraged.

From the article:

The case highlights both the problems and the progress of women 10 years after the Taliban’s fall. Gul’s egregious wounds and underage wedlock are a reminder that girls and women still suffer shocking abuse. But the public outrage and the government’s response to it also show that the country is slowly changing.

And though things are improving a bit,

Still, for every improvement, there are other signs of women’s continued misery. The U.N. says more than half of Afghanistan’s female prison population is made up of women sentenced by local courts for fleeing their marriages — the charge is often phrased as “intent to commit adultery,” even though that’s not a crime under Afghan law. And the U.N. women’s agency UNIFEM estimates that half of all girls are forced to marry under age 15, even though the legal marriage age is 16.

I do think it is sort of hopeful that the outing of this story caused an outrage in Afghanistan. I hope Sahar is going to be ok, despite this extremely traumatic experience, and I hope that because of her, a lot of other kids are going to be more ok than they would have been otherwise.

Thanks @AllenStairs for sharing

Groningen University reprimanded for appointing female professors

Groningen University (RUG) has a pretty good policy to improve the gender balance with full professors, which is generally embarassingly poor in the Netherlands.

However, the Committee for Equal Treatment received complaints from the Groningen student union that RUG has been discriminating men with the appointment of 12 full professors in 2010 and 2011. RUG created the posts especially for women assistant professors and men weren’t allowed to compete. This is against the law. The reason the student union filed the complaint is that, although they appreciate the efforts of RUG to improve the gender balance, more should be done about structural measures to improve the position of women professors instead, like making it easier to work part time.

The 12 women professors in question will not be required to relinquish their positions.

So technically, the reprimand was for discrimination, not for appointing women professors, but some reports in the media originally seemed to indicate that, hence this headline.


How to get more women professors: report from the the University of Tromsø

Curt Rice, the Pro Rector (Vice President) for Research & Development (prorektor for forskning og utvikling) at the University of Tromsø, explains how their efforts to get more women professors is paying off, yet more still needs to be done.

We have acknowledged that structural impediments are part of the reason that fewer women than men reach the rank of full professor. As a consequence, we work to reduce the impact of those impediments with women who are currently in the system, and we work to change the system so that the impediments will be eliminated for future generations.


It is possible to create a more fair system. Change can be achieved. With focus and commitment, universities can become better workplaces — workplaces with higher qualifications and with the conditions necessary to accomplish even more.

Good going.

Thanks, @christianmunthe

Transgender reproduction rights in Sweden

A law from 1972 forces transgender people to be sterilised before certifying their sex change. Aleksa Lundberg, a Swedish actress, is a dramatic voice in the struggle opposing this law

[…] the Swedish legal requirement that people who want to officially change their sex with the government must be be sterilized first. The law also forbids the freezing of sperm or eggs before corrective surgery, which effectively means transgender Swedes are barred from having biological children.

How utterly appalling, and not something you would expect to happen in Sweden. The movement to oppose this law is gaining momentum, but there is opposition from the conservative Christian Democrats. According to their spokeswoman:

“Men don’t give birth to babies. A daddy can’t at the same time be a mummy. Just because you can, does that mean that you should?”


Read the full article here.

Thanks @tauriqmoosa

Welcome to the world, 7,000,000,000th citizen

The UN estimated that today we would welcome our 7 billionth (is that how you write it?) citizen today.

Of course, it’s completely impossible to know if it is exactly today, and if so, which baby is the 7 billionth, but coincidentally, they celebrated the birth of this citizen both in the Philippines and in India, and both were girls lucky enough to be born at all (considering recent post about prenatal elimination of female foetuses).

Welcome, Danica May and Nargis, and those approximately 489.998 other babies, born today! And those 490,000 born tomorrow too, etc. And I hope your mother will survive your birth, approximately 1500 did not, today. And I hope you will make it past your 5th birthday: 49,000 (forty nine thousand) of you will not.

I hope we can make it a better world for you. And that indeed all of you will be citizens with equal rights and opportunities.