The Malta Independent 29 January 2023, Sunday
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Bernice Cassar wrote her thesis campaigning against 'sex object' portrayal of women

Semira Abbas Shalan Monday, 28 November 2022, 07:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Bernice Cassar had written her thesis campaigning against the sexual objectification portrayal of women, focusing on policewomen in her study.

Cassar, a mother of two, was shot dead shortly after 8am at Corradino industrial estate in Paola last Tuesday. The prime suspect, her husband Roderick Cassar, was arrested in his home in Qrendi after a 17-hour standoff with the police.

Roderick Cassar is the first person be charged with willful femicide. His wife had filed several domestic violence reports in the past.

Bernice Cassar, nee Cilia, had conducted a study in 2005 for her Bachelor of Communications degree, where she interviewed policewomen on the portrayal of actress Eileen Montesin’s character, Becky, in the now discontinued Maltese series Undercover.

The Malta Independent has carried a report about her study.

In the study, the policewomen had said that the character was “an insult to the responsibilities they have to face within the Malta Police Force.”

The policewomen had said that their responsibilities are more complex than “the successful investigations, the screeching of tyres and the abduction of criminals portrayed in Undercover and other similar television serials.”

They had said that the portrayal of policemen was also stereotypical, describing it as an insult to the well-being of the Malta Police Force.

As a result, the incorrect media portrayal often saw policewomen portrayed as a sex object, and reliant on the policeman’s action.

Cassar’s study pointed out that policewomen are often considered as objects to be dominated by policemen, and not as authoritative figures.

Cassar had also interviewed Montesin, who was the producer and main character (police officer) of the series, who had told Cassar that the aim behind Becky’s image as a heroic policewoman was to “portray a woman who strives not to be a failure.”

“Becky’s masculine ways in undertaking her police tasks unconsciously promote the macho image of the policeman and lessen the effectiveness of femininity in the eyes of its spectators,” one of the respondents, a policewoman, had said.

Cassar’s study showed that women in the media are mainly portrayed as attractive, caring, and always as a follower.

Professor at University of Malta Gorg Mallia took to Facebook to express his sorrow on the murder of his ex-student, Cassar.

Having taught her between 2002 and 2005, Mallia described Cassar as a quiet, brave, and clever girl.

Mallia said that killing should never be justified, and it can never be the end of an argument.


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