The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

Rosianne Cutajar wins libel suit over Facebook users who called her a 'prostitute' and 'call girl'

Thursday, 24 September 2020, 15:58 Last update: about 29 days ago

Equality and Reforms Parliamentary Secretary Rosianne Cutajar has won €800 in libel damages in a case against two Facebook users who had called her a “prostitute” and a “call girl”.

Equality Parliamentary Secretary had instituted libel proceedings against Godfrey Leone Ganado and Rachel Williams over a series of comments posted on Facebook back in 2018, where they make reference to Cutajar as a prostitute.

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On Thursday morning, a magistrate’s court ordered Leone Ganado to pay €300 in damages to the MP over a post on 20 November 2018, whilst both Leone Ganado and Williams were ordered to pay €500 in solidum over a second Facebook post, dated 30 November 2018.

Williams insisted that the post, which Leone Gando posted on her wall, was made without her consent, but the court said that she had not made any effort at all to censor or delete it. Magistrate Rachel Montebello observed that Williams had also replied to some of the comments under the post. Apart from the first post, Leone Ganado made another post on Williams’ wall, again making reference to Cutajar as a prostitute.

Magistrate Montebello ordered both Leone Ganado and Williams to take down the posts within the next 48 hours.

The court said that what emerged was that several years before, Cutajar had advertised herself on a website called giovani.it under the name Nuxellina and offered services as a hostess. Although Leone Ganado had testified that the websites contained a number of photographs of semi naked women, the court said it had not come across any such material on the site or in the documents presented before it.

It was true that the site foto.giovani.it had some suggestive images of persons, who appeared to mostly be celebrities; the court said it had not come across any photos of Cutajar on this document or the site in question.

The court continued to say that the term “hostess” as advertised did not mean “call girl”, expressing that the term had a completely different meaning in Italian.

In quantifying the damages, the court took into account that Leone Ganado’s emphasis had been on the word “HAMALLI” and not “prostitutes and call girls” in meting out punishment. The court also noted that he was an “ordinary person” who published the comments on his personal social media page and not on a media outlet.

Magistrate Montebello also noted that despite the negative comments made by others about Cutajar this “did not mean that her honour was completely destroyed, as the defendant appears to have tried to argue.”

Cutajar took to Facebook this afternoon after judgements were handed down, to highlight that the courts had awarded a victory to “every girl and woman.”

“The court confirmed in two judgements in cases I have filed against Godfrey Leone Ganado and Rachel Williams, that it is not justifiable to call a woman a prostitute simply because she is a woman. The message is clear; no woman should accept this type of language.”

“Let us disagree, but let us not degenerate into this sexist language if we truly want more women in politics! Society deserves much better!,” she wrote.

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