Further work needed to prevent violence against women, MPs say

On the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul convention, MPs acknowledge that there is further work to be carried out locally and abroad

Protection from gender violence has strengthened over the years, but members of parliament took the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul convention as an opportunity to acknowledge that there is further work to be done.

Prior to discussing the orders of the day, Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo gave a short speech to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention.

Evarist Bartolo noted how Turkey, the country that first ratified the convention, announced last month that it will be withdrawing from the convention. 

“In the past 10 years since we signed the convention, the rate at which women are killed around the world has not changed. 137 women across the world are killed every day by a partner or family relative, making their homes some of the most dangerous places,” he said.

Bartolo recalled one incident during a house-visit, where a woman had called him wanting to speak to him.

“When I arrived, I noticed that her mother-in-law was also at home. The woman remained silent the whole time. When I asked her if she wanted to speak to me about something, she said that she just wanted to see me.”

After the visit, Bartolo said he found out that her husband had pushed her down the stairs, leading her to break her wrist. She was scared of telling anyone because he was a policeman.

“Yes, we’ve moved forward and there’s more recognition, but there’s far more that needs to be done. We need to understand that rights are fragile,” he said.

On the Opposition’s part, Nationalist MP Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici mentioned the need to respect women at all levels of society.

“A large number of laws have been implemented, especially those addressed to increase protection. However, the basic point from which one must work from is that society must give more weight, value and awareness to what women offer,” he said.

He added how prior to these laws, a domestic violence case could only be investigated upon presentation of a legal letter.

“Now, even if a neighbour becomes aware of violence happening next door, they can file a report and police would have a duty to investigate and take action.”

Mifsud Bonnici continued on the Grevo report, which he said carries a certain weight that cannot be ignored.

“There is far more to do, and one must look at other procedures that go beyond penalties,” he said.

Parliamentary speaker Anġlu Farrugia gave his two cents on the issue, noting that while there is further work to do to protect women from gender violence, Malta has made significant improvements over the years.