Rosianne Cutajar wins libel case against Facebook users who called her a prostitute

Court awards Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar €800 in libel damages and orders two Facebook users to remove the offensive posts within 48 hours

Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar
Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar

Rosianne Cutajar has won €800 in libel damages in a case against two Facebook users who had called her a prostitute.

The Equality Parliamentary Secretary had instituted libel proceedings in 2018 against Godfrey Leone Ganado and Rachel Williams over Facebook posts in which they referred to Cutajar as a prostitute.

A magistrate's court this morning ordered Leone Ganado to pay €300 in damages to the MP over a post on 20 November 2018 whilst Leone Ganado and Williams were ordered to pay €500 in solidum over a second Facebook post dated 30 November 2018.

Williams had insisted that the post, by Leone Ganado on her wall, was made without her consent, but the court said that she had not made any effort to censor or delete it. Magistrate Rachel Montebello observed that Williams had also replied to some of the comments under the post.

Leone Ganado had subsequently made another post on Williams’ wall, again referring to Cutajar as a prostitute. Besides awarding moral damages, Magistrate Montebello ordered Leone Ganado and Williams to take down the posts within the next 48 hours.

The court said that effectively, what emerged was that several years before, Cutajar had advertised herself on a website called giovani.it under the name Nuxellina and offered services as a hostess. Although Leone Ganado had testified that the website contained several photographs of partially nude women, the court said it had not come across any such material on the site or in the documents presented before it.

"Effectively, as the plaintiff said, the site appears to be one with a principally educational scope and content, aimed at being used by Italian students of various educational levels." It was true that the site foto.giovani.it had some suggestive images of persons, who appeared to mostly be celebrities, the court said it had not come across any photos of Cutajar on this document or the site in question.

The court said that the term "hostess" as advertised did not mean "call girl", pointing out that the term had a completely different meaning in Italian.

In quantifying the damages, the court noted that Leone Ganado was an “ordinary person” and had published the comments on his personal social media page, not on a newspaper or media outlet. The court also took into account that his emphasis had been on the word “HAMALLI” and not “prostitutes and call girls” in meting out punishment.

Magistrate Montebello also weighed the fact that despite the negative comments made by others about Cutajar’s behaviour, this “did not mean that her honour was completely destroyed, as the defendant appears to have tried to argue.”

The fact that the declarations were made without any tie to Cutajar’s public office, were degrading in nature and were published on a platform which was accessible and followed by a limited quantity of people were also factors taken into account in quantifying damages.

Illum il-Qorti tat rebħa lil kull tfajla u mara. Il-Qorti tat konferma f’żewġ sentenzi għall-kawżi li kont ftaħt...

Posted by Rosianne Cutajar on Thursday, September 24, 2020

Cutajar took to Facebook herself this afternoon after the judgments were handed down, saying that the courts had awarded a victory to “every girl and woman.”

“The court confirmed in two judgments in cases I had filed against Godfrey Leone Ganado and Rachel Williams, that it is not justifiable to call a woman a prostitute simply because she is a woman. The message is clear, no woman should accept this type of language,” Cutajar wrote.

“Let us disagree, but let us not degenerate into this sexist language if we truly want more women in politics! Society deserves much better,” she added.

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