The Malta Independent 3 February 2023, Friday
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TMID Editorial: Thoughts and prayers won’t change anything

Monday, 28 November 2022, 14:54 Last update: about 3 months ago

Malta was rocked by the shocking murder of Bernice Cassar last week – the third incidence of a woman being violently murdered by a man this year, with Paulina Dembska being the first and Rita Ellul being the second.

Each time such cases are greeted with unwavering sadness from across the board, with many stating how their thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s loved ones in what is undoubtedly an awful and difficult time.

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But let’s face it: thoughts and prayers will not change anything.  Only action will change things.

Bernice Cassar one could argue did everything right: she reported her husband to the police over his violent threats against her, she filed for a protection order after another violent incident, she filed yet another report against her husband after he breached the protection order, and then another one over comments he made on social media – and yet she was still killed.

It is clear that there were deficiencies in the system which was meant to be protecting her.  She was meant to be protected from her husband, but yes she still ended up being a murder victim.

Thoughts and prayers won’t change the system.  Only tangible calls for action and for justice will change this.

Domestic violence issues however do not merely boil down to institutional shortcomings: there are societal shortcomings at play as well.

Maltese society remains one where the entrenchment of gender roles and a patriarchal attitude remains alive and well in many places.  There is still a feeling across society that a woman is a man’s possession and that she has her “place” which she should not go away from.

This is something which was seen very clearly earlier this week when Television Malta presenter Joanna Camilleri was subjected to shocking insults on social media after she made a mistake during a FIFA World Cup broadcast.

“Why doesn’t she go stir a pot of soup and wash the floor... She thinks she understands,” read one of the comments. "Her period is coming," read another one. Other comments suggested that Camilleri is better off performing sexual favours rather than doing her job.

A relatively innocent mistake resulted in a storm of vitriolic insults which centred not around the mistake itself, but around the fact that Camilleri happens to be a woman who – perhaps even more scandalous for the clearly pathetic individuals making the insults – was commentating on a football match, something which has consistently been gate kept as being exclusively for men.

This is an attitude which starts – and stops – at home and amongst one’s peers.  No amount of educational campaigns will ever solve it.  It must be parents educating their children; friends calling their friends out on their behaviour when necessary; people having the courage to step in where necessary.

Thoughts and prayers, said with however much good intent, won’t change society.  Action will, and it’s action which every single person has to play a part in.

Only action from everyone will stop tragedies like that of Bernice Cassar from happening again.  

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