Women’s rights groups in strong reaction to court decision to fine domestic violence offender

NGOs say court judgement “gives message that aggressor can get away with almost anything”

A number of women's rights foundations and NGOs have condemned a recent court judgement were a perpetrator of domestic violence was let off with a €700 fine
A number of women's rights foundations and NGOs have condemned a recent court judgement were a perpetrator of domestic violence was let off with a €700 fine

A number of women’s rights organisations and other NGOs and individuals in the field have reacted strongly to a court judgement issued this week, where a man found guilty of having shot at his partner’s window was let off with a €700 fine.

The NGOs said they were “gravely concerned” by the court’s decision against the offender, Sean Anthony McGahren, and they felt that the judgement gave a message "that aggressors can get away with almost anything when committing an offence of domestic violence”.

They said they were also deeply concerned about the prosecution’s decision to remove charges related to the offence after the victim said she wished to draw her complaint against McGahren, and that the court acceded to the request.

The groups drew attention to the fact that the offence of domestic violence, has been, since 2006, of an “ex officio” nature, something which was further consolidated with the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention, which had been part of Maltese law since May 2018.

“It is therefore of great concern to see that the highest authorities in our country, the very ones that are meant to protect the vulnerable are still ignorant of the law and the rights of victims,” the said.

“Withdrawing charges of domestic violence was not only done contrary to law, but was in breach of the fundamental rights of women given that these type of offence committed constitute gender based violence,” the NGOs underscored.

“This is not the first time that prosecution and courts have taken this measure in cases of domestic violence, but in this particular case we cannot emphasis enough that arms proper were used and shots were fired,” they highlighted, “We question whether had the situation not been a domestic one, the offender would have got away with a fine.”

They condemned the court’s and prosecution’s decision, saying that it sends a message that domestic violence is “condoned” and that perpetrators are “free from culpability.”

“Women are and continue to remain victims of intimate partner violence and domestic abuse and such judgments do not promote the protection that is deserving and is putting women further into a more vulnerable position,” the groups added.

The statement was issued by the Women’s Rights Foundation, Victim Support Malta, SOAR St Jeanne Antide Foundation, Men Against Violence, The Good Shepherd Sisters - Dar Merhba Bik Foundation, Programm Sebh - Dar Qalb Ta’Gesu, PHROM, Aditus Foundation , Malta Humanist Association, Loraine Spiteri and Marceline Naudi.

 

 

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