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1. Offences against the person

Offences against the person is a concept that includes violence in all its forms.

The Council of Europe define violence as “any act or omission committed by a person (or group) which threatens the life of the physical or psychological integrity or freedom of a person (or group) or seriously compromises the development of his, her or its personality and/or damages his, her or its financial security”.

Violence may occur in private spaces or in public. It can be verbal, psychological, physical or sexual. Violence takes the form of words, behaviour, actions or gestures.

Most offences against the person fall under Title VIII of the Criminal Code. These offences include homicide and wilful bodily harm, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, and wilful failure to act. Title VII of the criminal code on “crimes against the family order and public morality” includes provisions covering not merely rape and sexual assault but also voyeurism and forced marriage.

The Social Crimes Code penalises offences against the person of the worker via psychosocial risks in the workplace including violence and psychological and sexual harassment breaches of privacy.

The General police regulations adopted by municipalities also provide rules relating to the respect of the person, with a contravention possibly constituting a mixed offence if it is also covered by the criminal code. In Brussels-Capital Region, municipal officials responsible for issuing penalties can therefore handle offences either as common assault or minor violence.

Lastly, the legislation against racism and discrimination including sexual discrimination, covers specific offences covering a range of matters including the criminal code, making provision for increased penalties in cases with a reprehensible motive. This covers sexual assault, rape, murder, voluntary manslaughter, bodily harm, a failure to assist a person in danger, offences against personal liberty and the inviolability of the home committed by individuals, harassment, and attacks on personal honour or reputation.