Freeing the Word and Breaking the Silence: The Fight of Maïté Meeus and Balance Ton Bar

#Balance ton bar: Maïté Meeus, an unusual activist

In the fight against gender-based and sexual violence, there are voices that are heard differently, who mark people's minds with their unwavering commitment. Maïté Meeus is one of these voices. She is no ordinary activist. Its initiative, “ Balance Ton Bar ”, launched in October 2021, shook Brussels by highlighting the violence occurring in bars and nightlife venues in the Belgian capital.

Portrait of Maïté Meeus founder of #balancetonbar

The trigger for this movement? Testimonies of sexist and sexual assault scattered across Instagram, a sad reality that Maïté Meeus has decided not to ignore. But she also decided to go beyond simple denunciation by seeking to centralize these testimonies to give a collective voice to the victims and thus demand concrete changes.

One of the most worrying aspects of this problem is the phenomenon of chemical submission. This despicable practice, too often minimized or ignored, has found a platform with “ Balance Ton Bar ”. Over time, hundreds of testimonies have poured in, highlighting the unsuspected scale of this violence. But Maïté Meeus did not just collect these stories, she also worked to ensure that the notion of chemical submission was integrated into the Penal Code, a major step forward in the recognition of this form of violence.

However, despite these advances, the path to justice and recognition for victims remains strewn with pitfalls. Recently, a new anonymous testimony was published on the Instagram page of " Balance Ton Bar ", describing a nightmarish experience in a famous bar in the capital and a night shop in the center of Brussels. A 22-year-old young woman, after being drugged with a friend, finds herself in a night shop basement, attacked by a stranger. His chilling story bears witness to the violence of these acts and the impunity that often seems to surround them.

The ordeal unfortunately does not end there for the victims. After having the courage to file a complaint, the young woman found herself confronted with the indifference and incompetence of the authorities. His case was finally closed, leaving a bitter taste of injustice and abandonment.

This testimony was the trigger for Maïté Meeus. After almost a year of inactivity, she decided to relaunch “ Balance Ton Bar ”, aware that the fight is far from over. His commitment does not weaken, despite obstacles and weariness. Because behind each testimony, there is a victim who deserves to be heard, supported and accompanied.

The reopening of “ Balance Ton Bar ” is not only a return to action, it is also a call for solidarity and mobilization. Because if the victims had the courage to break the silence, it is up to us, as a society, to offer them our support and our listening. Sexual violence treatment centers are there to support them, but it is up to all of us to ensure that their voices are never silenced again.

Maïté Meeus is not an ordinary activist. She is the symbol of a generation that refuses to be silent, that refuses to let injustices continue. With “ Balance Ton Bar ”, she reminds us that the fight against gender-based and sexual violence is far from over, but that together, we have the power to make change.

Balance Ton Bar Resonates in the Courts: El Cafe Security Guard Convicted of Rape Contested on Appeal

The impact of “ Balance Ton Bar ” in this case lies in its ability to shine a light on sexual violence perpetrated in nightlife establishments in Brussels, thus reinforcing the need for fair justice and increased support for victims.

The sad reality of sexual assaults in bars and nightlife establishments in Brussels was once again forcefully felt when a security guard at El Cafe was sentenced to 50 months in prison for the rape of a customer of the establishment in 2019. However, this verdict does not mark the end of this case. The security agent decided to appeal, thus contesting the judgment rendered on June 28 by the Brussels criminal court. He and his lawyer question not only the prison sentence, but also the financial damages imposed on him, to the tune of 8,500 euros, to be paid to the victim.

The reminder of the facts is chilling. A 20-year-old young woman, after having a few drinks, is forced to perform two blowjobs on a security guard at El Cafe. The horror takes place in a toilet cubicle, where she is pushed and threatened. His ordeal lasts nearly 30 minutes, marked by acts of violence and domination.

The initial verdict, sentencing the security guard to 50 months in prison, brought a semblance of relief to the victim and those around him. However, this relief was short-lived. The announcement of the appeal filed by the convicted person revived the victim's still fresh wounds. For Maître Caroline Poiré, the young woman's lawyer, this decision highlights the long and trying legal procedure that the victims must face. Despite their courage and determination, obtaining a final decision can take years, thus exacerbating their suffering.

On the defense side, Maître Abdelhadi Amrani did not wish to comment on the introduction of the appeal. However, this approach raises questions about the motivations and arguments put forward to challenge a verdict which nevertheless seemed clear.

This case highlights the importance of supporting victims throughout the legal process, by offering them adequate support and ensuring that their voice is heard and respected. Let us hope that the Court of Appeal will take into consideration the suffering endured by the victim and render a fair and equitable decision, thus contributing to the fight against sexual violence and the search for justice for all.

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