Press Release

Lawyer Victim Assistance (LVA): project to improve care for victims of sexual and intra-family violence

The pilot project Lawyer Victim Assistance (LVA) started in November 2023. It is the result of a collaboration between the Brussels Bar, the Brussels Prosecutor's Office, the Brussels Capital-Elsene police zone and the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men. The project is co-supported by Justice Minister Paul Van Tigchelt and State Secretary for Gender Equality Marie-Colline Leroy.

This project aims to make legal aid more accessible to victims of sexual and intra-family violence and to better inform victims.

In line with the Stop Feminicide Act, the project consists of:

- Training and setting up a pool of lawyers specialised in counselling victims and trained in the prevention of feminicides. These trainings will be organised in collaboration with local actors (associations, EVA unit within the police, Sexual Assault Centres, the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, etc.);

- A free consultation with a lawyer;

- Police officers in the field distribute flyers with info for victims on the steps they can take for a free consultation with a specialised lawyer.


Marie-Colline Leroy, Secretary of State for Gender Equality: "Every victim of sexual and intrafamily violence is one too many. The Lawyer Victim Assistance project is fully in line with the federal government's desire for a coordinated strategy to tackle intrafamily and sexual violence, and stems from the Stop Feminicide Act that came into force on 1 October 2023. Training of specialised lawyers and collaboration with civil society will advance expertise. Helping break the silence is necessary to reduce violence and impunity for perpetrators. We want to achieve this by improving support for victims at every link in the chain. The first results of the pilot project in Brussels are encouraging and strengthen already existing policies to combat gender-based violence."

Paul Van Tigchelt: "Every year, 50,000 acts of intra-family violence are registered. This is very worrying and may even be an underestimate. Moreover, on average, victims only start reporting after 35 acts. At that point, a victim may have already been threatened, beaten or raped 35 times. That is a horrifying figure. We must do all we can to lower the thresholds as much as possible so that victims seek help immediately. This initiative contributes to that, thanks to specialised lawyers who make their services available free of charge. Our message to victims is clear: Justice takes you seriously and will do everything possible to help you."

The Brussels Bar presidents Emmanuel Plasschaert and Bernard Derveaux are aware how important it is for victims to have quick access to the right legal information by trained lawyers. They are convinced of the importance of cooperation between lawyers and all persons involved in the care of victims (prosecutors, police officers, psychologists, social workers, counsellors). The Bar wants to be a partner in the fight against sexual and domestic violence.