Domestic violence victims to receive free legal assistance

Legal assistance will available to every victim of domestic violence, even those who do not qualify for legal aid • Lawyers to help victims will be engaged on the same day

Lockdown measures risk making life even more difficult for domestic violence victims
Lockdown measures risk making life even more difficult for domestic violence victims

Victims of domestic violence will soon receive free legal assistance, an initiative piloted by the Justice Ministry.

The assistance to victims of domestic violence will also be applicable to vulnerable citizens who do not qualify for legal aid under the law. 

The initiative came about after a video conference organised by Labour MEP Miriam Dalli that included Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and Equality Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar.

The theme of the video conference was the expected surge of domestic violence incidents due to social distancing measures.

Under the scheme, lawyers helping victims of domestic violence will be engaged on the same day without any delay whatsoever and 24-hour mobile phone assistance will also be made available to victims.

The president of GREVIO – the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence - had said in March that mandatory lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19, could prove dangerous for victims.

“We need to be aware that the restrictions on movement offer abusers additional power and control,” GREVIO President Marcelline Naudi had said. 

Domestic violence shelters in some areas had already stopped all admissions because they were unsure on how to manage the risk of infection. Others are privileging online or telephone support, which carries many risks for women who are in close quarters with their abusers.

“Nor must we forget that the economic consequences of the pandemic, such as loss of job or income, will hit women hard in that they create or exacerbate financial dependency, reducing their ability to leave abusers,” Naudi had said.

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