The National Council of Women Malta, which had worked on the draft legislation on domestic violence, believes that strengthening national legislation in Malta should be a priority that needs to be addressed without delay.
The NCW believes stronger and more binding measures to ensure effective implementation on all forms of violence against women including stalking and sexual harassment, should also be put in place.
Above all, education programmes for young people, for professionals and for the police force should be carried out. Guidelines are not enough; those who do not comply with the law should be prosecuted, NCW said.
National campaigns on domestic violence should be financially supported both at EU and national level to help eliminate violence and the resulting negative social impact on our society, it suggested.
Council of Europe convention on the protection of victims of gender-based and domestic violence
The Council of Europe has created a convention to protect the victims of gender-based and domestic violence. It was presented during a press conference at the European Parliament last week.
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe chairman José Manuel Bota, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo and EP women’s rights and gender equality committee chairperson Eva-Britt Svensson addressed the conference.
Mr Bota explained that the new convention is the most far-reaching international convention to tackle this human rights violation.
It aims to harmonise international laws to ensure equal rights for every woman by demanding that acts such as stalking, sexual harassment or forced marriage be made criminal offences.
Ms Svensson added: “We could never build a society if women are scared in many areas of their lives.”
Until now, only 13 countries have signed the convention but Mr Bota is sure that others will join soon. “There is no reason to be concerned. The treaty was published in Istanbul last May. We rushed things because we wanted to send a strong signal to Eastern Europe, but most of the countries need more time to sign it because of their own procedures,” he said.
On the other hand, at the European Parliament, the Socialists and Democrats Group are not so confident and called on EU governments to speed up the adoption of a European Protection Order for victims of gender-based and domestic violence.
The EP voted for the measure last December, but now, according to the Socialists, the Hungarian Presidency would prefer to move the issue to another committee delaying the decision for up to two years.