Belgium’s justice minister vowed a crackdown on sexual assault after the case sent shockwaves through Belgium
A 14-year-old Belgian girl has taken her own life days after she was allegedly gang-raped in a cemetery by a group of five “youths” who shared images of the savage attack online, with the case drawing national attention due to the tragedy that befell the victim.
The sexual assault took place on May 15 after the teenage girl had been lured to a cemetery in Ghent, where she had planned to meet up with a male friend. However, once she had arrived at the location, she instead was met by a group of five unknown male teens.
The suspects — three minors aged 14 and 15, and two adults aged 18 and 19 — then filmed themselves assaulting and raping the young girl, before uploading the video footage to social media, Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reports.
Four days later, the teenage girl killed herself. The victim’s parents, who were previously unaware of the reason which triggered their daughter’s suicide, were informed about the assault by the mother of their daughter’s friend.
The five alleged perpetrators, all of whom are believed to be from Ghent, have been arrested by local authorities.
“Three minors were placed in a closed institution by the juvenile judge in Ghent and two adults (both 18 years old) were arrested by the investigating judge in Ghent for offenses that would have occurred shortly before the death of the victim. The council chamber in Ghent decided today that the detention of the two adults will be extended by one month,” the office of the East Flanders Public Prosecutor said.
So far, the two adult suspects have been charged with “rape, indecent assault, and the taking and sharing of pictures likely to constitute an attack on the integrity of a person”, according to a report from RTL Info.
“Those images must have been the last straw for her,” said the victim’s father. “She saw her entire world collapse. A 14-year-old girl can’t go through something like this.”
While speaking with the local press, the victim’s mother said: “I always told my children that they could come and talk to me if something went wrong, that I would listen to them even if I didn’t agree. If only she had told me something about it, I might have been able to do something.”
Mayor of Gavere Denis Dierick, who had known the 14-year-old girl “very well”, described her untimely death as “pure horror” and “an inhumane tragedy”.
“Horrible. There are no words,” Belgian Justice Minister Vincent van Quickenborne wrote on social media in response to the tragedy.
Approximately 200 gang rapes are reported across Belgium every year.
In recent years, there have been numerous cases of underage girls being raped and video footage of the abuse being uploaded to social media applications in various European countries.
In the fall of 2018, in the French city of Toulouse, four men recorded the brutal gang rape of a 19-year-old girl and uploaded the footage to the social media application Snapchat. Unfortunately, the teenage victim never saw her attackers brought to justice.
One year earlier, a shocking video of gang rape in Sweden was broadcast live on Facebook. The two perpetrators, both of whom were asylum seekers, were arrested during the attack after a Facebook user in Upsalla notified police upon recognizing one of the men as having raped her 15 months earlier.