East or West women face the same condition be it the variance in wages or sexual harassment at work place, say the Belgium girls who are in Vijayawada to study the gender equality issues and sexual reproduction health and rights. They are sponsored by Belgium-based UCOS which selected twelve students to visit three continents. While one team of four members went to Cuba, the second team of four members went to Uganda and the third team is in India.
Women’s condition not different in West
Ella Van Eynde, Journalism student, Linde Goossens, History student, Charlotte Desmet, Gender Equality studies student and Florence Flussie, student of journalism, from Belgium are now in India and would be here for three more weeks studying various issues like gender equality, sexual harassment at workplace.
Charlotte Desmet says that sexual harassment cases are not uncommon at workplaces in Belgium. However, many tend to not report since it is difficult to prove. “Though legally speaking men and women should be treated equally, there is subtle difference in treating women,” she said and added that no man ever pronounces that he is superior but in reality it is different. For instance, there is still wage variation between men and women in Belgium, she points out adding men are paid more than women for the same work.
Ella says that more number of men are in key position compared to women be it in politics or corporate sector. “In politics, though there are 50 per cent in the upper house, there has never been a woman prime minister,” she says. In fact, a gay became prime minister but not a woman, she adds.
Charlotte Desment says that Belgium law requires the political parties to nominate at least 33 per cent of women and if they do not meet the target, they face sanctions.
Linde Goossens said that there is no problem of unwed mothers and a man cannot walk out of relationship which is a contract by nature. He is legally liable to support the children, she adds.
Though both men and women have earning capacity, many a time, it is the women who is compelled to stay home for looking after the children, she rues. “Anyway, the times are changing and women are not willing to stay home these days,” she adds.
Referring to a recent mobile app released by the government with the cooperation of a firm, Ella said that the app called Blif van min lisf which literally means ‘Don’t touch my body’ is very helpful for women. If a woman opens the app and complains, the police would react immediately. “Not only that the government paints black spots on that area to warn women about that area which is not safe for them,” she adds.
Charlotte Desmet says that in case of sexual harassment, women could complaint to the panels concerned in the office or could complain directly to the police. “Anyway, since it is very difficult to prove the harassment, many women tend to remain silent over such harassments,” she said.
Referring to the #MeToo campaign in the Hollywood, the girls, acknowledging there is harassment, said that many a time the harassment is subtle.
Referring to the molestation instances, Florence Flussie said that it is my right to dress whichever way I like. The fault lies not in the victim but the aggressor, she asserts.