If You're Going to Berate a Woman, Don't Do It in Belgium

Don't do it anywhere, actually, but especially not in Belgium, which just enforced its law against sexism
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2018 9:10 AM CST
Belgium isn't messing around when it comes to public displays of sexism.   (Getty Images/RobMattingley)

(Newser) – It's not advisable in general to berate a police officer over her gender—but especially if you're in Belgium, which has had a law on the books for the past four years prohibiting sexism in public spaces. One man just became the first person convicted under that law, reports the Guardian. Per local media, the unnamed "young" perp was arrested in June 2016 when, during a traffic stop, he railed against the female cop who detained him, making remarks that brought her gender into play. His arrest and conviction came about due to threats he made against her and the "serious violation of the dignity of the person because of her sex."

In 2014, the Washington Post detailed the then-newly approved Belgian law that deemed sexism "any gesture or act that … is evidently intended to express contempt for a person because of his gender, or that regards them as inferior, or reduces them to their sexual dimension, and which has the effect of violating someone's dignity." The ban apparently covers not only insults hurled in person, but also those in print or other forms of media. A rep for the Halle-Vilvoorde prosecutor's office tells the Guardian that while "it is quite common for people arrested by the police to insult and threaten … to personally blame a policewoman because of her sex is special." The newly convicted man was hit with a $3,750 fine and told he'd end up behind bars for a month if he didn't pay up. (Silicon Valley's sexism, spelled out by Ellen Pao.)

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