Pauline Dembska murder ‘a wake-up call on Malta’s gender equality problem’

NCPE brands the case an 'extreme form of power and control in a patriarchal society' and says the murder should serve as a wake-up call

Paulina Dembska’s murder should serve as a wake-up call to address gender inequality in Malta, the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) said on Wednesday.

The NCPE expressed its sorrow and outrage at the murder of Paulina Dembska, stating that it was a case of femicide.

“This is clearly of case of violence against women, that is, violence that took place because Paulina ‘was a woman’. The possibility that the alleged perpetrator suffers from mental health issues in now way erases the misogynist motive behind the murder or provides an excuse for it,” the commission said.

Paulina Dembska, a 29-year-old Polish student, was brutally murdered at Sliema’s Independence Garden on Sunday. Reports said she had signs of violence around her head and chest, with the autopsy showing she was raped and strangled.

The commission noted that Paulina Dembska’s murder was an extreme form of power and control in a patriarchal society.

However, the commission explained that manifestations of this mentality are more common-placed. Catcalling, unwanted touching, sexist media representation, and trivialisation of harassment are all around for people to see.

“The femicide of Paulina Dembska should serve as a wake-up call to seriously examine and address the unequal power relations between women and men in our society. This entails a concerted effort from all sectors and authorities, and from all citizens and residents, both women and men.”

Gender-sensitive policy-making and policing is needed to address gender inequality, the commission said. Inequality must also be addressed through the eradication of sexism from all spheres of life, including online and broadcast media as well as institutionalised sexism.

Moreover, the commission said that gender equality should be integrated in all forms of formal and informal education, and educational tools should be developed to aid this process.

“The term ‘femicide’ draws our attention to the fact that responsibility for such a heinous crime lies also in the social context that enables this gender-based violence. Public and private spaces that are equally safe for women and men can only be developed through actively challenging the diverse forms of gender inequality in the different spheres of society.”

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