Four towers to be lit up orange as part of domestic violence campaign

The 16 days of activism on domestic violence awareness will centre on the theme: 'Your voice can set you free'

Four towers across Malta will be lit up in orange throughout the 16 days of activism campaign against gender-based violence.

This year’s 16 days of activism campaign will centre on the theme “Your voice can set you free”. As part of this campaign, the Commission for Gender and Domestic Violence will share the experiences of victims in the form of animated videos.

“Our aim is to encourage everyone in abusive and violent relationships to speak out and find help,” Equality Minister Owen Bonnici said.

Bonnici emphasised that men can be victims of domestic violence, but remarked that men tend to be the perpetrators of such violence.

“We need to look at the reasons why this is and face this reality,” he continued.

Tourism minister Clayton Bartolo added that gender-based and domestic violence can take the form of mental, psychological, or emotional abuse.

Throughout the campaign, Bartolo hopes that government and civil society will be able to raise further awareness of this phenomenon.

Lydia Abela, the Prime Minister’s wife, added that domestic violence can affect anyone. In fact, most cases of domestic violence are reported by people over 60.

She also added that over 1,900 people reported such cases in the first six months of 2021.

“We need to be a single voice,” she said. “Aggressors know that solidarity can free you from abuse.”

The situation in Malta is regressing – Malta Women’s Lobby

Meanwhile, the Malta Women’s Lobby (MWL) is calling on all Maltese politicians to reflect on “the dire situation that is affecting one in every three women in Malta”.

“On the issue of violence against women, the MWL would like to reiterate that the situation in Malta is regressing rather than improving in many aspects for a number of reasons,” the lobby said.

It noted the low level of prosecutions and convictions against perpetrators of violence and rapists in Malta, while the judiciary still lacks basic training on the complex dynamics and risks of domestic violence and its gendered aspects.

“Children who are involved in cases of domestic violence are also being short changed by our legal system. Such children are not factored in as victims of the crime, even if the law is clear that children who witness domestic violence are victims of domestic violence.”

In addition, the lobby said the court lacks training and understanding on trauma and evidence giving following traumatic experiences.

“The State also ignores how perpetrators of violence continue to use the system to control their victims, such as by not paying for child support and not giving consent for children to change school, access childcare, participate in extra-curricular sports and so on.”

When it comes to police, the lobby noted how traumatised victims of domestic violence and rape are still expected to supply the police with evidence rather than having the police collect the evidence from the scene of the crime in a timely manner. “This poses serious risks of loss of evidence.”

“Malta is still not fully compliant with all the aspects of the Istanbul Convention and because the country has adopted a gender-neutral approach to violence, the country seems to be failing to address this phenomenon as a specific form of violence against women, because they are women.”