Violence Against Women Could Be Prevented In Society. Here's How.
Bernice Cassar Is Every Woman
Before Bernice Cassar, there was Rita Ellul. Before her, there was Paulina Dembska. It’s been 1 year & we’ve lost 3 women to femicide.
As a woman in my 20s, it scares me to think that what happened to Bernice, Rita, or Paulina could happen to me. Why?
Because they were women. And that should not be a reason. It's not fair that I have to be scared.
Although we have mourned their deaths throughout this year, we have also ensured to keep their names alive to humanise them. Yet, there’s still so much more that Malta needs to do to prevent violence against women & femicides.
It’s a spectrum. From cat-calling to getting groped in a club, to abusive partners… the final stage is femicide.
The Maltese Context
There are 3 things that need to change: Attitudes, Behaviour & Stereotypes.
Our social attitude towards women is that they should feel responsible for the wellbeing of the family.
Therefore, when women find themselves in abusive situations, they find it difficult to uproot their children, & instead choose to preserve the family unit. This mentality is driven by gender stereotypes.
Many domestic violence survivors feel shame after having left their husbands due to these cultural expectations of women.
In Malta, 1,645 cases of domestic violence were reported in 2020, indicating an increase of around 24% of cases from the year 2019.
And not all cases are reported.
Improve data collection on violence against women & femicide to better inform prevention policies & measures.
Improve risk assessment by recognising & addressing any risk factors of violence.
Strengthen cooperation & coordination to ensure effective responses to violence against women, such as strategies for intervention in risk situations, providing support & protection to women, & monitoring perpetrators.
Implement training for all frontliners that come into contact with victims.
The Media & Representation
The media has to take responsibility & should be trained on how to report on violence against women, including femicide.
Cases of domestic violence & femicide should not be sensationalised, treated as isolated incidents or instigate victim-blaming. Harmful perceptions need to change to stop gender-based violence.
By countering sexist attitudes & gender stereotypes which normalise violence against women, we are working towards promoting gender equality & saving women’s lives.