PN women’s section: minister had to act more swiftly in sexual harassment case

Nationalist Party’s women’s section says Owen Bonnici should have acted more urgently upon learning of sexual harassment case at national orchestra

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici (Photo:James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Culture Minister Owen Bonnici (Photo:James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

The Nationalist Party’s women’s section (MNPN) has deplored what it said was a lack of action by culture minister Owen Bonnici over sexual harassment allegations inside the Malta Philharmonic Orcehstra.

“By his own admission, Owen Bonnici not only did not take any action and did not report the sexual harassment to the police as was his obligation, but allowed the time for other people to be influenced in staying silent in front of the abuse,” the MNPN said.

On Monday, on TVM’s Xtra, Bonnici admitted taking no immediate steps to temporarily suspend the national orchestra’s top brass when he became aware of sexual harassment claims last September.

Nationalist MP Julie Zahra said Bonnici must shoulder political responsibility and resign for his failure to protect the victim. In parliament on Tuesday, Zahra pressed the point that the minister should have acted more forcefully after the victim contacted him, rather than “just directing her to the gender-based violence commissioner.”

Zahra even claied Bonnici had influenced media coverage of the sexual misconduct case when he called a NET TV reporter on Sunday afternoon. Bonnici said he was only “correcting inaccurate information in an article”.

“The message which should be sent in cases of sexual harassment is ‘zero tolerance’, and this can only be done with swift and just action,” the MNPN said.