Domestic violence cases reported to social welfare agency more than doubled in 2019

New domestic violence cases referred to social welfare agency increase from 319 in 2018 to 683 last year

New domestic violence cases referred to the Foundation for Social Welfare Services increased from 319 in 2018 to 683 last year
New domestic violence cases referred to the Foundation for Social Welfare Services increased from 319 in 2018 to 683 last year

A sharp increase in the number of cases reported to the social welfare agency was recorded last year, statistics tabled in Parliament show.

While 319 new domestic violence cases were reported to the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) in 2018, the figure for 2019 stands at 683.

Last year's figure is also substantially higher than those recorded in 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014, when 338, 348, 293 and 276 new cases respectively were registered.

The information emerged from a response by Family Minister Michael Falzon to a parliamentary question from PN MP Claudette Buttigieg.

Falzon said that the rise in the number of reported cases was down to the government's efforts to increase awareness about domestic violence and to encourage victims to seek help.

The figures show that, of the 1,300 total domestic violence victims (the same individuals can receive help over more than a single year) who sought help at the FSWS in 2019, 81, or just over 6%, were men.

Amongst those who sought help in 2019, five were aged under 17, while 20 individuals were 18 to 19 years old.

The most common age group was 35 to 39, followed by 40 to 44.

The minister said that FSWS staff focusing on domestic violence had increased from 23 in 2013 to 47 in 2019, while the budget allocated for this area had risen by 57.6% - from €703,016 to €1,108,546 - during the same period.

The government also has in place public social partnerships (PSPs) with Dar Merħba Bik, SEBĦ Foundation's Dar Qalb ta' Ġesù and Dar Tereza Spinelli, which received aid to the tune of €2 million for the victim shelters they operate.

Nine new cases of human trafficking in 2019

Responding to a separate PQ from Buttigieg, Falzon said that nine new cases of human trafficking were referred to the FSWS in 2019, compared to 25 the year previous.

Last year, the Foundation worked with 48 victims of human trafficking, of whom 19 were male and 29 female.

Most victims were aged between 25 and 34, with none under 20.

The FSWS has in place a dedicated team of professionals to assist human trafficking victims.

It also operates a number of safe houses, in which victims can stay until they find alternative employment with the help of the agency's social workers.

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