The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Femicide bill unanimously approved, clears all Parliament hurdles

Tuesday, 21 June 2022, 15:49 Last update: about 5 days ago

A Bill which adds the concept of femicide to Malta’s legal structure as an aggravating offence to a homicide has been unanimously approved by Parliament

The Bill was approved on Monday at the Third Reading stage, meaning that it now only requires the signature of President George Vella to be enacted.

The Bill was amended during the committee stage to clarify that the perpetrator of a femicide can be anyone: be they male, female, or otherwise.

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The issue was first raised by The Malta Independent on Sunday, which quoted legal experts including former human rights judge Giovanni Bonello in saying that the law as it was set out could be discriminatory as it specified that a femicide could only be committed by a male.

The issue was then also raised in Parliament by PN MPs.  Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis insisted that the law as set out was not discriminatory, but his successor Jonathan Attard accepted the suggestion for clarification and put forward an amendment to the Bill.

Under the new law, for a homicide to be considered a femicide, the victim must be a woman and must have been killed because she was a woman.  This would include homicides as a result of domestic violence, honour killings, misogynistic intentions, religious practices such as genital mutilation, and sexual abuse.

The ‘crime of passion’ justification – something used often by defences to get a softer punishment for the perpetrator will no longer be considered an acceptable factor when the Judge comes to decide on any punishment in the case of a femicide.

The Bill was tabled in the last legislature in reaction to the murder of Polish student Paulina Dembska, who was raped and killed in Sliema at the start of the year.  Parliament was dissolved for the general election before the bill could be enacted, but it was re-tabled when the new legislature began.

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