Belgian study uncovers widespread sexual violence throughout its population

Researchers from Ghent University, in collaboration with the University of Liège, uncovered that a significant number of the Belgian population have experienced some form of sexual violence throughout their lifespan.

Known as UN-MENAMAIS (Understanding the Mechanisms, Nature, Magnitude, and Impact of Sexual Violence in Belgium), the study involved people from late adolescence to late adulthood.

Two-thirds of the Belgian population were victims of sexual violence, with two in five women and one in five men sharing experienced sexual trauma.

“We apply a mixed methods methodology. We combine a literature review with a survey on SV victimization and perpetration in the general population and in-depth interviews with SV victims. In addition, we conduct a survey and focus groups with professionals on SAS and a final seminar with a Café Dialogue with professionals and SV victims on policy recommendations,” the study reads.

“Sexual violence is rampant in Belgium. In the first large-scale representative and gender- and age-sensitive study on sexual violence in Belgium, called UN-MENAMAIS, experts from Ghent University, the University of Liège, and the National Institute for Criminology and Criminalistics found that two third of the Belgian population experienced sexual violence during their life,” a news release states.

“Women and men were equally victimized at this age. Older victims continue to cope with mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD and hazardous alcohol use, as a result of sexual violence earlier in life.”

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