‘This is no crime of passion: this is femicide’, activist Lara Dimitrijevic’s anguished call on Facebook

Reactions to the murder of Chantelle Chetcuti start pouring in from several NGOs and civil society activists 

Chantelle Chetcuti, and Justin Borg, her alleged murderer (inset)
Chantelle Chetcuti, and Justin Borg, her alleged murderer (inset)

Women’s rights activist Lara Dimitrijevic has called out the use of the term ‘crime of passion’ to describe the cold-blooded murder of Chantelle Chetcuti, 34.

Chetcuti was killed by the estranged father of her two children, Justin Borg, who has since been arrested by the police.

“I cannot take anymore gibberish from those that try to exculpate murderers. There was no passion in any of this. And shame on you for saying so. Women are victims of violence from men, men that continue to feel superior, entitled, privileged,” Dimitrijevic, a lawyer, said on Facebook.

“Am tired of hearing professionals and authorities that are meant to protect women and prevent violence claiming that men are victims too! To them I ask once again, how many men have been murdered by women because women felt privileged and entitled? To them I ask, how many men have lived for months and even years in shelter because their husbands/partners continue to harass even while being in shelter?”

The Safi woman was stabbed on Sunday night at around 8:15pm and died yesterday in hospital. She was stabbed following an argument outside a football club in Żabbar.

The 34-year-old had to be operated upon immediately on arrival at Mater Dei Hospital but her condition deteriorated and lost her battle for life on Monday night, the police said.

The police said the victim and the man had an altercation inside the St Patricks FC bar, which spilled out onto the street. The stabbing happened outside on the corner with Triq is-Santwarju.

Borg escaped from the scene of the crime but gave himself up at police headquarters in Floriana. Police said the man was treated for minor injuries in hospital and taken under arrest at the depot. Drugs were found on the man.

“[I] spent most of the night thinking of how we have blood on our hands,” Dimitrijevic said. “Blood that we should have prevented, blood that should have never been shed. Children’s lives that have been ruined for ever, left motherless because we have allowed a murderer to live and loath in his entitlement and privilege. Today, I add another name to the list of women that have been murdered by their loved ones. Femicide is the word that describes this. And am in pain, am angry, am lost and tired.”

Dimitrijevic also called out the Maltese authorities, saying they had to assume responsibility “for the bloodshed on [their] hands? When are you seriously going to fully understand that violence against women is killing women?”

Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar said domestic violence was the third most common crime and hoped that no one tried to justify or excuse murder. She also called on victims to come forward and report domestic abuse.

Nationalist MEP Roberta Metsola said the country needed "mechanisms that respond faster", as she listed all the names of women murdered since 2010. "We need this scourge of our society to be tackled with the seriousness it deserves," Metsola said.

In a statement, Moviment Graffitti said the murder had once again brought about the “urgent need to fight against a patriarchal society which allows these tragedies to happen.”

“These tragic cases which make the headlines are only the tip of the iceberg and are a reflection of a society where sexism is still rife, where women and girls are subjected to harassment, abuse and different forms of violence on a daily basis and then blamed for being the victims,” Graffitti said.

Moviment Graffitti will be marching together with other organisations on Sunday 8 March in Valletta on the occasion of Women’s Day to send a “message that much more still needs to be done for women to really be safe and to be treated equally in our society.”

The Malta Confederation of Women's Organisations released a statement on Tuesday in reaction to the murder, saying that violence against women is always completely unacceptable.

"We need to ensure that women living in abusive situations feel empowered to seek help - there is still some societal stigma and shame connected to victims of Domestic Violence - we need to ensure that women are not judged in this way," the statement read.

If women either do not report or do not receive timely and appropriate help, we will continue to have cases of femicide, the confederation said.