Defendant X was condemned under Article 433quinquies and 733septies of the Penal Code for human trafficking with the aim of exploiting three women by prostitution. The fact that the women may have given their consent, and came to Belgium for the specific purpose of prostituting themselves, was considered irrelevant. The Court of Appeal further considered irrelevant the possibility that the women in question had been active in prostitution before. The key test is whether there has been exploitation, and that this is the case when direct or indirect benefit is derived by the exploiter from the income generated by the prostitution, and this becomes the exploiter’s main source of income, regardless of whether the exploiter lives with, or is married to, the prostitute.
Women and Justice: Court: Court of Appeal of Ghent
X. Court of Appeal of Ghent (2016)
C.M. v. B.M.B. Court of Appeal of Ghent (2003)
Following an assault by her husband (which was interrupted when he sustained a heart attack and had to be hospitalized), a woman temporarily moved into a small studio above the shop she rented and in which she worked. She brought divorce proceedings shortly after the assault, which resulted in a lower court restraining order on both parties. The husband was to be allowed to stay in the couple’s family house on the theory that this was the best solution financially and because the restraining order would make it impossible for the man to live in the studio in the rented commercial property as the wife worked there on a daily basis. On appeal, the wife requested that she be allowed to live in the family house, while the husband claimed that he should be allowed to stay there given his more limited financial means (a pension allowance). The husband did not deny the violence, but minimized the facts, while the wife claimed that there were already tensions before the assault and that her husband’s heart attack had saved her life. The Court of Appeal held that despite the absence of other witness declarations, the existence of a medical certificate supporting the woman’s claims as to the assault provided sufficient evidence of violence by the husband. The fact that the violence only occurred once did not change this and nor did the outcome of the pending criminal investigation. The Court held that, in accordance with the law of 28 January 2003 on domestic violence, the family home was to be assigned to the victim of such violence as no exceptional circumstances existed here to decide otherwise, despite an alleged imbalance in the financial means of the parties. The request by the wife for a maintenance allowance to cover the husband’s rent was rejected because the husband did not prove that the wife had a higher income and that the divorce proceedings would likely lead to financial compensation by the wife to the husband for the use of the family house.