Cabinet presents action program against sexually offensive behavior and sexual violence | News report

News item | 13-01-2023 | 2:30 p.m

Together with society and many different organisations, the government wants to tackle sexually transgressive behavior and sexual violence. This social problem must be combated through legislation and regulations, public campaigns, the realization of a safe working environment, the role of bystanders and good assistance. Sexually transgressive behavior and violence do not fit into a safe society where we treat each other equally. This is what Minister Dijkgraaf for Education, Culture and Science and Minister Van Gennip for Social Affairs and Employment write in a letter to the House of Representatives. In the coming years, 11 million euros will be made available for the action programme.

The purpose of the action programme

The purpose of the action program is to combat sexually transgressive behavior and sexual violence. Sexually transgressive behavior and sexual violence will not disappear overnight, the government is also aware of that. Therefore, another important goal of this program of action is to limit the harm caused by sexually transgressive behavior and sexual violence. The government wants to achieve this by quickly identifying and stopping it, offering victims and their surroundings support and assistance, and acting directly against (suspected) perpetrators. The action program also pays great attention to the spectator role. We want viewers to recognize sexually transgressive behavior and sexual violence and know what to do if they encounter it.

Lines of action

The action program consists of three types of measures: Measures taken by the government itself, such as regulations; measures to be taken by social sectors and organizations by which the government can stimulate and facilitate; and measures that will ultimately only succeed if society as a whole no longer accepts sexually transgressive behavior and sexual violence by holding each other accountable for unwanted behavior and supporting victims.

The action program has five lines of action, which have been established in collaboration with Government Commissioner Mariëtte Hamer, and on which more than 100 organisations, experts and practitioners have shared their experiences and knowledge. The lines of action are:

  1. Common social values ​​and norms. It must become normal to discuss with each other what your wishes are, where your boundaries are and to turn to each other if boundaries are (threatened to be) exceeded. To this end, work is being done, among other things, to liberate men, learn about sexuality in education, teach employees in education, care and welfare organizations to make sexuality a topic of discussion and broad public communication to stimulate discussion in society.
  2. Legislation and rules reflect the (changing) social norms. Legislation and regulations must clarify what behavior is considered unacceptable and even punishable in our society. For this purpose, efforts are being made to legislate a mandatory code of conduct and complaints procedure. But the Sexual Offenses Act will also be expanded, making sexual harassment in public, offline and online and sexual assessment of children under 16 a criminal offence.
  3. Organizations have processes for prevention, signaling and follow-up in order. They must work on a socially secure (work) culture and see what it takes to achieve this. The National Government supports this. To this end, organizations must prepare a policy with measures that contribute to a safe working environment. You must also be aware of the differences per sector, in sport a different approach is required than in the media or education sector.
  4. Everyone recognizes and can respond to sexually transgressive behavior and sexual violence. The role of the bystanders is important in this regard. Various measures will be used to focus more on what they can do when they testify or when a victim shares experiences with them.
  5. There is good help that is easy to find. Assistance for victims, perpetrators and relatives is available to everyone and of good quality. Research has been done into how support for victims and perpetrators is structured and meets their needs, and basic principles for good support have been defined, which are also easy to find.

Role for society

The government cannot solve a social problem alone. Therefore, the National Action Program also leaves a lot of room for good initiatives from society. Everyone has a role and can already make a difference in it. It is important to have an ongoing dialogue with each other about how we want to treat each other and how we make society safer for everyone. With this action programme, the government takes the next step towards a necessary cultural change and involves the whole of society in this.

Government Commissioner Mariëtte Hamer

The Government Commissioner has been appointed by the Cabinet since April 2022 and makes an important contribution to identifying, preventing and combating sexually offensive behaviour. It is independent and advises the cabinet, invited and uninvited, on the development and implementation of the action programme. It also forms coalitions in society, links the social partners to the action program and feeds the cabinet with signals and knowledge from society. In addition, she acts as a figurehead and driver of the social conversation about how we want to interact with each other to prevent sexually transgressive behavior and sexual violence. It will also continue to play a major role in the action program on all lines of action.

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