Nearly a thousand reports of violence against Flemish civil servants, three in ten of which involve physical violence Domestic

In 2022, there were 979 reports of violence, bullying or unwanted sexual behavior against staff to the Flemish government. More than three in ten cases involved physical violence. This is evident from figures provided by Minister of Administrative Affairs Gwendolyn Rutten (Open Vld) on Tuesday in response to a question from Green MP Staf Aerts.

Last week, a survey by the Christian trade union ACV among civil servants at various policy levels showed that 28 percent of staff members have already been the victim of physical violence, most of them even several times. 73 percent say they are regularly the victim of verbal aggression.

Green MP Staf Aerts asked Minister Rutten about her assessment of those figures and about possible measures for Flemish civil servants. According to Minister Rutten, there is a kind of register at Flemish level in which reports from Flemish government personnel are collected. This concerns a “register for victims of violence, bullying or unwanted sexual behavior by third parties”.

“Way too high”

In 2022, that register received 979 reports. In most cases (68 percent) it involved psychological violence. This means that more than three in ten reports involve physical violence. Minister Rutten thinks that figure is “far too high”, although she would like to encourage staff members to continue reporting cases. “This should certainly not remain underexposed,” says Rutten. She also points out that there are various policy initiatives, ranging from prevention to aftercare, to combat violence.

Questioner Aerts is also shocked by the high number of reports. “Every act of violence is one too many,” he says. “It is good that action is being taken. This problem must be brought to light. At the same time, the numbers have to go down,” Aerts added.