Opposition will vote in favour of femicide bill but asks: What about female aggressors?

A new bill will make femicide an aggravating offence, but only when the killer is a man

The Nationalist Party reiterated that they will be voting in favour of government’s bill to introduce femicide into the criminal code, but several MPs questioned what will happen when the aggressor is a woman.

PN MP Karol Aquilina was first to flag the issue in his parliamentary speech. “Part of the law only deals with a situation where a man is the aggressor and the woman is a victim. What if the aggressor is a woman?” he questioned.

Joe Gilgio shared this sentiment. He asked what would happen if a woman commits a femicide against another woman, “for example in a case where she finds that her partner was cheating on her with that same woman”.

Giglio said that these little details give the bill an expiry date. “If someone challenges the law in court, the law might not stand the test of time,” he said, warning of discrimination.

PN MP Claudette Buttigieg similarly said that the law must be fool-proof in its application. “Laws aren’t there to look good on paper.”

Government’s femicide bill was drafted in the aftermath of the murder of Paulina Dembska, who was raped and killed in a Sliema public park last January.

Graziella Attard Previ, a PN MP who was Sliema mayor at the time of the murder, recalled how many women questioned their safety in Malta in the weeks after the murder.

“The probability of dying from gender-based violence is higher as a woman,” she noted.

The bill has now passed for a third reading, where it will be discussed by parliament’s consideration of bills committee.