BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A teenage Afghan immigrant has been charged with raping a female worker at an asylum seekers’ center in Belgium, authorities said, prompting outrage from anti-immigrant politicians.
The 16-year-old Afghan asylum seeker followed a worker from a catering firm into the basement and raped her at the center in Menen, near the French border, prosecutors said. The judge ordered him detained in youth custody until his next hearing.
A spokeswoman for the Red Cross said it was the first time in 25 years such an alleged incident had occurred at one of the organization’s asylum seeker centers in the country.
“Two weeks ago we gave a course about how to treat women in Flanders and the boy was present there,” the spokeswoman said.
The allegation feeds into to a highly charged debate over immigration in Europe, particularly since authorities in neighboring Germany accused gangs of migrants of sexually assaulting women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.
“I repeat: people who need a course on how to treat women should not be there in the first place,” Tom Van Grieken, leader of anti-immigrant party Vlaams Belang said on Twitter.
Belgium received 35,476 asylum requests in 2015, more than twice the level of 2014.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Alison Williams