News22.05.2024

Verdict falls in landmark sex worker rape case

An important verdict fell this morning in the rape case of four sex workers of Brazilian and Romanian origin. The correctional court in Antwerp sentenced defendant J.P. to ten years in prison. Advocate for sex workers UTSOPI took a civil stand in the case: "justice gives a clear signal with this."

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In total, J.P. made five victims in this case: he was convicted of rape concerning four of them and violating the sexual integrity of all five. After serving his sentence, he must serve 15 years at the disposal of the sentencing court.

Withdrawn payments

The man always used the same modus operandi: he made an appointment with a sex worker through the advertisment website Redlights, showed or sent proof of an executed payment but scheduled the payment a day later. He always suggested the sex workers take a picture of the payment and his identity card. After the sexual service, he would cancele the payment. This is punishable as forgery, a charge for which the defendant was also prosecuted and convicted.

Canceling a payment also constitutes rape. Indeed, the sex workers would not have consented to sex with the perpetrator had they known they would not be paid for it. Payment was a condition of consent. Without payment, sex took place without consent.

Impunity

Because of similar offenses against five other sex workers, J.P. was convicted of rape on March 20, 2023. The prosecution then asked for only a suspended sentence, which J.P. received. From the start of probation, he started over. The ankle bracelet he received while investigating the new offenses did not prevent him from continuing to commit the same acts. In the end, he made five new victims, each time sex workers with an migration background.

According to the court, the facts demonstrate a "dangerous and malicious disposition." The fact that he committed the same acts even during the pre-trial investigation with an ankle bracelet would, according to the court, "cause sex workers to lose confidence in police and justice." The court called the defendant a "dangerous predator."

UTSOPI, who was civil party in this case, is satisfied: "Justice is sending a clear message today. If perpetrators go unpunished, the likelihood of sex workers filing complaints becomes smaller and smaller. So this verdict is of utmost importance for the rights of sex workers. Protection is impossible when perpetrators go unpunished," the organization shares.

For more information: +32 472 25 64 26.

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