Muscat suggests adding more women MPs in current legislature

Joseph Muscat again makes his case for gender quotas: 'Half of the population is not represented in Parliament...shock therapy is needed'

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that he would be open to boosting the number of women MPs in the current legislature, as part of his plan to introduce gender quotas.

Speaking in Parliament, Muscat said that “shock therapy” is necessary to boost the number of women MPs and urged the Opposition to get into a discussion with the government about a gender quota system.

“If we reach an agreement, then we could start implementing it in this legislature by increasing the number of MPs in a manner that respects the electorate’s wishes,” he said. “Such a move would send a strong sign to society.”

The Prime Minister insisted that the time has come for temporary direct action in this regard, arguing that the percentage of women MPs has remained practically static over the years.

“As it stands, half the population isn’t being represented in Parliament in terms of gender. Some argue that women can get elected [on their own steam] as the current female MPs have or that women can vote for each other, but I believe these are simplistic arguments.”

He noted that the Labour Party has already committed to putting forward a gender-balanced candidate list by 2027, and said that the “immense interest” shown in the recent pledge proves that there is a thirst for change in the country.

Recreational marijuana, prostitution reform on the agenda

In his speech, held as a reaction to the President’s speech for the opening of the current legislature, Muscat said that he has a popular mandate to implement controversial reforms – such as legalising recreational marijuana and regulating prostitution.

On recreational marijuana, the Prime Minister appealed for a mature discussion that takes into account as many opinions as possible.

On prostitution, Muscat said that the government can no longer close its eyes to a black market industry over the years and that could be abusing women.

“I feel hurt whenever I read international reports describing Malta as a country where human trafficking is rampant,” he said. “This is a position the country doesn’t deserve and we can no longer close our eyes to it.”

With an amused look at economy minister Chris Cardona, Muscat said that the proliferation of strip clubs has now been replaced by the proliferation of massage parlous.

“All of a sudden, there are massage parlours everywhere, and a glance at court cases makes it clear that the number of massage parlour workers being charged with prostitution is on the rise,” he said.

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