“The sex workers of the Quartier Nord have the feeling that they are even more unsafe if they are of African origin, as the victim was,” said a spokesperson for Utopis, the association representing the rights of sex workers. “They find they are not sufficiently protected by the authorities, and especially not by the commune of St-Josse.”
In fact, the red-light area takes in parts of St-Josse and Schaerbeek, and critics have argued that each of the communes has a tendency to shuffle problems off on each other. The victim in this case was found in the Rue Linné, which straddles Schaerbeek and St-Josse. In a previous attack in February – not fatal this time – another sex worker was attacked in Rue de la Rivière, in St-Josse.
As the investigation continues, Brussels minister for equal opportunities Bianca Debaets called for a coordinated policy on security from the three communes concerned. Speaking on the VRT, Debaets said she could do nothing in her current position as a minister in the regional government. “However this case shows how the mayors implement their own policies, with no sign of a structural approach,” she said. Schaerbeek mayor Bernard Clerfayt, in response, said St-Josse mayor Emir Kir had failed to carry out a number of agreed policy changes.
The Brussels Times