• Jamie Dent

OPINION: Misogyny & Mental Illness: How Our Country Failed Paulina Dembska

A Case Of Femicide

Her name was Paulina Dembska and her body was found in Sliema yesterday. She was a woman who was tragically & brutally murdered. Malta has a terrible history of violence against women, with around 30+ cases of femicide since 1981. At this point, it is fair to assume that this act was indeed a femicide. TVM reported that she was strangled, and that there are signs of sexual abuse. Shocking screenshots also emerged of him allegedly sexually assaulting girls online.

It can then be argued that our country's failure to address misogyny & mental health problems have created an environment for this kind of crime to take place.

What We Know So Far

It has emerged that the perpetrator has a known history of drug problems, paranoia, & delusion. Police also said he had no connection to the victim, believing that this was a ‘random act'.

Abner Aquilina, who has also a long history of mental illness, was arrested outside Balluta church at around 6.30 in the morning after he stood on the altar, flipped chairs & made threats to early morning churchgoers, who proceed to take him out of the church.

Upon being interrogated by police, the suspect said that he was 'doing God’s work’ & that the devil had been manipulating his thoughts.

Let's Consider Mental Illness

The interrogation was suspended, & doctors were called in to inspect him. They then referred him to Mount Carmel, with serious doubts raised about his mental state. We cannot yet say for sure that his apparent mental illness led to this brutal act, but there are certainly indications that it played a major role. It is, at this point, too early to put it down solely to femicide,or solely to his mental illness.

Abner should never have been allowed to roam the streets. His past bouts of mental illness, erratic behavior, sexually abusive messages, & criminal past should’ve made it clear enough that he is a danger to society.

Our Country Has Failed Us

Violence against women is a hugely serious issue, especially in Malta. Attention should never be taken away from that, & we must carry on advocating to protect women from violence. We must also understand that mental illness is an issue of similar importance. The sad reality is that severe mental illness may result in horrible acts being committed - and it is certainly possible that yesterday’s murder may be an example of that, at least to an extent. Malta has a long way to go when it comes to when it comes to both issues; he should never have been free to roam the streets in his mental state, & we live in a society with misogyny rooted in its core. It appears Malta has failed us on both counts.


What Do You Make Of Yesterday’s Shocking Murder Case?