The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

Government launches second National Strategy on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence

Thursday, 17 June 2021, 13:15 Last update: about 3 months ago

The government launched the second National Strategy on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence, for the years 2021-2022.

Minister for Justice, Equality and Governance Edward Zammit Lewis, Commissioner on Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Audrey Friggieri and Dr Lydia Abela, the wife of Prime Minister Robert Abela, launched the strategy on Thursday.

Minister Zammit Lewis described gender-based violence and domestic violence as a social plague.

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“The government takes this subject seriously, he said, adding that “we cannot have a healthy society if this social plague keeps on rearing its head.”

He said that the government has a strong commitment to tackling this issue.

This is the second strategy of its kind, he said, adding that the new strategy refines its targets more than the first.

Education is key, the minister said, as he spoke of having effective educational campaigns.

“Domestic Violence is partly due to ignorance, stigma and prejudice that unfortunately still exist within society. We can only fight against this through education with targeted campaigns at all levels.”

Commissioner Audrey Friggieri said that Domestic violence often happens behind closed doors, in silence. “There are still many people who don’t report such abuse,” she said, adding that education plays a big role in tackling the issue.

This phenomenon affects people from all walks of life, she added.

The Commission wants to strengthen the Istanbul Convention, The Commissioner remarked, in the fight against all gender-based violence and domestic violence.

She said that the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in people being more sensitive to the peril people in abusive relationships can be in, due to spending more time close with the aggressor.

This strategy, she said, will serve to strengthen and build upon the existing structures that address the four pillars of the Istanbul Convention, so that gender-based violence and domestic violence be addressed in a consistent and holistic way. “This includes through continuous campaigns to educate and inform the public about this phenomenon that affects so many.”

The creation and organisation of therapeutic and educational programmes that help people with abusive behaviour problems and training for professionals to give support to individuals and  families passing through this situation is part of the Commission’s work, she added.

“In this country, violence is not a private matter that we keep to ourselves. When we keep silent we give power to the oppressors. This affects all our society.”

Lydia Abela said that a strategy’s success is found when what is written on paper is given life, “when we surpass all obstacles in making what is written on a document a reality, to make people’s lives better.”

Love and compassion are two keywords, she said.

She described that through her work as a lawyer, she often met people seeking assistance when they cannot take living in such situations any more. These people began to feel better when she no longer just saw them as clients, but as people, and when she began to understand their situation.

Her appeal to people working in the sector is that in implementing the measures, “we must first be human, and then be experts in our fields.”

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