Divorce issue ‘reduced to polarised debate’ – Family Studies Centre Director

Maltese families are among the strongest in the EU, Centre of Family Studies Director and psychologist Dr Angela Abela says, warning the divorce issue has been reduced to a “polarised debate” - nothing new for a country ridden with festa-related piques.

Abela was speaking during a Forum organised by the Office of the President and held within the Presidential Palace on Saturday.

The forum considered the changing Maltese identity, featuring a panel of experts that touched upon language, technology, religion, values, and the role of the state in promoting and protecting the Maltese identity.

Speakers included leading economist Dr Gordon Cordina, Historian Prof Henry Frendo, and prominent author Prof Olivier Friggieri. During her own address, Abela refuted claims that Malta’s family is deteriorating. “Our family is one of the strongest of the EU, and has not showed signs of weakening in recent years.”

Citing the most recent census, she said that only 5.5 of Maltese families are separating. Referring to the way the divorce issue is unfolding, Abela however said that the debate is being quickly reduced to a “polarised debate”, adding that this however is nothing new for a country that is habitually and traditionally ridden with festa-related piques.

“We are risking losing out on the issue’s complexity and not informing people of what divorce truly means,” she warned. She also said that the Centre for Family Studies is “not saying anything (about divorce) because we believe that we should inform people of the facts, not simply tell them what do to. “Arguing that the idea of Maltese marriage had changed but its strength had not,

Abela also quoted an yet-to-be-published EU values study by Professor Troisi that found that Maltese still give top priority to family, second to work, and third to religion.

Quoting the European Values study, she added that study also found that regarding factors relevant to marital success, fidelity was considered most important, discussing problems came in second, while sexual relations between spouses was found to be third-most important.

“When one considers that only 10 years ago, sexual relations was at seventh place, and now it’s a third, it says a lot about how the Maltese family is developing,” Abela said.

Abela called on the state to alleviate the ever-increasing pressures that are being faced by families in terms of buying property, keeping up with expenses, raising families while working, and also on other issues like binge drinking. “Parents cannot raise families alone.”

She also hit out at “claims that the economy cannot sustain a longer maternity leave when we have an impending economic demographic crisis,” referring to dropping birth rates because of couples are putting off having children due to professional and financial burdens. “We simply aren’t equipped to ensure that parents can go out to work and still raise children properly.”

Economist Gordon Cordina warned that more social awareness in how the country’s economy is approached. He said that any economy rules by “prices” and the decision-making practice of automatically opting for what is cheapest neglects the true needs of any country, economy, or people

He also highlighted the risk of ‘price inflation’ through superficial value and status symbols, which undermines the efficiency of any economy and the social sensitivity it can engender. “Is the Maltese economy based on something solid, or is it illusory?”

Referring to the considerable progress made in recent years, he however questioned if the country had lost out in other aspects, such as the environment, and debt management. ”We need to stop and take stock of where we have developed, and what we are therefore losing,” he said, pointing to enhanced awareness of education and social values as the way forward.

”We need the courage to find solutions for many problems,” Cordina warned, ”but not through solutions that make us feel better in the short-term while creating bigger problems in the long-term.”

During his own address, Prof Friggieri called attention to how Malta’s socioeconomic makeup is experiencing stressful and abrupt development that could disconnect it from its past, while Prof Frendo questioned whether the Maltese people’s collective memory is evaporating.

“Without continuity with the past, there exists a vacuum. This can only be filled with new ingredients, which create a new entity bereft of the link with the previous society,” he remarked.

More in Divorce Referendum
avatar
Joseph Galea
Dr Angela Abela said; “It is not feasible or sustainable that newly-wed couples have to shoulder burdens such as weddings that, on average, are costing €25,000.” But who is forcing these couples to throw away so much money on a four-hour wedding? If they do so, that means that they can afford the luxury. If they can;t, they should opt for something less extravagant. I hope we shall not start hearing about the 'poor' young couples who cannot afford to have a wedding grand enough to keep up with the Jonses. The next thing will be a call for the government to subsidise weddings!
avatar
Apart from Dr Angela Ablea the other guest speakers are not known to be sociologists. Or it is now that once you have an expertise in one field you know it all.
avatar
hahhaaha excuse me I went a year back to 2010 :)
avatar
I just smile when I read these articles from these professors etc.. :0 who they think they are to speak for all people? lolllllllllllllll nah it's all in vain, sooner or later divorce law will enter, for now maybe not, cause of these typos, and those who never went out even from their house:) This is all a media manipulating propoganda to the weak minds. Malta 2010 first time a divorce debate in parlamemt and referendum. This is just the beginning, noone can stops the waves. If not now, later divorce wil be here. So From what i have studied from both sides, if the NO wins, it's not going to be a victory. What victory? what will stop people from seperating from each other?what will stop from women leaving their men and vice versa? The divorce issue is a crap- fuss over nothing. why are you worying about marriages? what can you do ? stopping the divorce law? what wil that stop? It all depends on the person individual, his character or hers. as I said you cannot control the people. al you can do is make laws. but laws are made to be broken. I don't like divorce, BUT, who i am to vote NO? If I don't want or don't need divorce, why should I stop other couples from marrying?it's up to them to take care of the marriage or new marriage. why shouldn't they be given a second chance? as I said with the divorce law or without, noone can control the people with laws. stil ther are going to be , babies born to teenagers and seperations, why? "That can be answered only by the person himself".