Iva calls on UHM to investigate reports of intimidation

Pro-divorce lobby Moviment Iva has called on the Union Haddiema Maghqudin to investigate reports of intimidation and threats on pro-divorce sympathisers and activists.

Nationalist MP and divorce bill promoter Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando told UHM leaders today that the movement had received reports of pro-divorce supporters being under pressure to stay away from the debate.

“We have also received reports of workers sympathetic to the movement being threatened with either working conditions, or their jobs,” he said. “One of these was a UHM union member.”

Pullicino Orlando called on the union to investigate any claims that it might receive, “in the interest of other workers being intimidated into not exercising their democratic right.”

He pointed out that research by the Discern Institute found that as many as 35,000 individuals will be have a broken marriage by 2015, urging for this state of affairs to be recognised.

Also speaking during the meeting, Moviment Iva chairperson Dr Deborah Schembri said that the introduction of divorce won’t lead to chaos within social benefit structures or increase the state's social spending as alleged by the anti-divorce camp.

She said that divorce will simply mean the reduction in those spouses who wish to remarry but who cannot at present. She said some of these are actually a burden on society, which, once married, will be in a better position to depend on their own means.

She also said that some instances where children are born outside marriages but within relationships and are fathered by ‘unknown fathers’ will be addressed, as those couples would be able to remarry.

She referred to concerns that working class spouses would not be able to support both a second family and a first family due to alimony. She said this was no different from current legislation on obligations for separated spouses, which would be untouched by the divorce law. “Those who have been paying maintenance will go on paying it, while those who don’t, will not.”

Schembri also pointed out that most couples prefer to opt for consensual separation do not have to pay maintenance, adding that this will not change with the introduction of divorce. “Remarrying will change none of this,” she said.

She also referred to concerns raised by the anti-divorce lobby, that divorce would create a situation where children from the first marriage become “second preference children.”

“This is totally false. The law makes no distinction between children from one family or another. Children are children – the courts will never make any such distinction,” she stressed. “They will be equal.”

Asked about the pro-divorce lobby’s statements that maintained is guaranteed that rebuttal by the anti-divorce camp that this is misleading, Schembri said that maintenance is already “guaranteed by law in separation proceedings.”

She said that even if someone is sent to jail for not paying maintenance, “the spouse who is due money can open a civil case and obtain that money from him or her.”

In his own address, UHM general secretary Gejtu Vella assured Moviment Iva that the union would investigate any such reports that it might receive. “We live in a country where expression of interest is safeguarded and protected, so such intimidation and threats are completely unacceptable,” he said.

“The UHM is neither against nor in favour of divorce,” Vella said, “but in favour of the family. We will keep following a hopefully healthy and informative debate that will allow the public to make informed choices, and not participate in a national lottery."

Vella said that divorce aside, the country nevertheless needs to find ways to strengthen the family, as it is one of the pillars of the country and economy. “The reality is that we are having less children, but are seeing more old people. We need to restore strength and focus to the family."

Former Nationalist Minister Michael Falzon agreed that the family should be at the centre of attention, “but we have a choice. The choice is not between strong families and broken families, but between broken families who have a chance at happiness, or broken families with no way forward,” he said.

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Maureen Attard
And those who are speaking against are not being intimidated also. Even the church is being intimidated when teaching the Catholics about marriage and divorce. See the some of the local news papers and even TV. Don't make me laugh.
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Maureen Attard
Dmugh tal-kukkudrilli li nisel lejn il-mistra.
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....admit your governments lack of ethics towards the voting system Mike. Mela you already forgot about our outdated ID cards?????? and yes intimidation does occur in our country. The workers are just afraid to speak out due to loosing their job. Its is shamless! WE RESEMBLE A CENTRAL AFRICAN STATE NOW!!!
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Total Panic. Jpo & co doing everything to be in the news. If it is true go to the police and give them the information not to the UHM.