What if I am the victim of violence or abuse?

You retain rights as an employee, even if you are working without legal residence. You are also entitled to respect for your person, your body and your property. Police and inspectors are also always obliged to treat you with respect.

General rules

  • You have the right to refuse sexual advances you find unpleasant: touching, making remarks or someone undressing in front of you. All these situations are considered sexual abuse or ‘sexual harassment’. Rape is a serious crime and one for which the perpetrator should be ashamed.
  • There are laws in Belgium that prohibit discrimination: this means that you are treated badly because of your skin colour, nationality, gender, sexual orientation… you can always file a complaint with an organisation against racism and discrimination.
  • Even if you have no residence card, nobody is allowed to use violence against you, bully or threaten you, steal your possessions, cheat or blackmail you, etc.

If you are a victim of abuse, at your work or outside it, you have the right to protection and possible compensation.

What can you do if you’re the victim of abuse?

  • In order to get protection and possibly compensation if you are the victim of abuse, you must file a complaint with the police or take your case to court. That isn’t easy for people who have no legal residence. Go to the police station with a friend or colleague or get in touch with a ‘Centre for Victim Support’ in advance.
  • If you are the victim of discrimination, you may take your case to an organisation against racism and discrimination, Unia.
  • Always memorise the names of any witnesses. Write down your story yourself, as soon as possible, with all the details, or get someone to help you with this. You will need this information if you later file a complaint.
  • If you are injured or were raped, visit a doctor immediately. Explain what happened, let the doctor examine you and write a certificate for you. This may help to prove your story later.