The tiny European island country of Malta takes the spotlight for #Day9 of #16Days of Activism. While boasting an impressive generosity with 83% of the population giving to charity, Malta still has some room to grow in the equality department. Fertility and childbearing are still upheld as women’s most important calling with a local proverb claiming a childless marriage cannot be a happy one. Malta only legalized divorce in 2011, abortion is still illegal and 16 is the legal age for marriage….
You can find some absolutely incredible date on domestic violence in Malta here, and I highly suggest you check it out–now. The government agency Foundation for Social Welfare Services operates the Commission on Domestic Violence, the Commission for the Promotion of Equality for Men and Women, and the Agenzija Appogg.
The Appogg Agency coordinates Positive Parenting to combat child abuse, as well as the “Domestic Violence Services [which] include the Domestic Violence Unit, the Perpetrators’ Service and Għabex (emergency shelter for women victims of domestic violence and their children). These services are committed to the promotion of a society with zero tolerance to violence.” The Domestic Violence Unit’s objective is
- To support service users over 18 years who suffer abuse within intimate relationships, and to help them better understand and address their situation;
- to help service users understand that they do not deserve to be abused;
- to help service users develop safety plans;
- to encourage self-empowerment;
- to help service users find shelter when it is necessary;
- to link service users with other services or professionals;
- to enable service users take control of their lives;
- to help service users along with their children to overcome the effects of growing in a violent environment;
- to contribute to public education on domestic violence;
- to formulate inter-agency domestic violence procedures and to work in liaison with the concerned agencies towards negotiating these procedures and applying them;
- to work towards developing a society with zero tolerance to violence
…while the Men’s Service utilizes a 22 week program “to assist men who are abusive in intimate relationships, to become aware of, understand and take responsibility for their behaviour, thus encouraging change.”
The main aim of the Men’s Service is to help abusive men:
- learn to stop the abuse
- learn to identify the danger signs
- learn to break out of isolation
- learn safer ways of expressing strong feelings
- learn to build healthy relationships
- take responsibility for their behaviour
The Men’s Service is committed to:
- developing and contributing to services for the safety of women and children;
- contributing to public education on domestic violence;
- working towards developing a society with zero tolerance to violence.
Supportline 179 (also run by Appogg) is the country’s 24/7 free national hotline which fields calls ranging from “domestic violence, homelessness, suicidal tendencies, marital and/or family problems, loneliness, emotional difficulties, behavioral problems, depression and other mental health issues, human trafficking, substance abuse, gambling, amongst others.” Kelimni is an agency dedicated to hearing out young people, and offers support through email and message boards, as well as a chat function available MWF 7pm-11pm and Saturday 10am-2pm.
The National Council of Women of Malta is the only organization I could find in English that is not run by the government whose aim is to promote equality of opportunity. They also share a number of articles and links about subjects that affect women (and families) in Malta. Their objectives are
- to promote the establishment of human rights for the people of Malta and their civic, educational, moral and religious welfare
- to promote such conditions of life as will assure for all persons opportunities for full and free development
- to secure the removal of all disabilities of women, legal, economic or social and to promote the effective participation of women in the life of the nation
- to promote sympathy of thought and co-operation among women
- to act as a co-ordinating body for organisations which work for any of its objectives
- to collect and distribute information of service to the community through the International Council of Women to form a link with National Councils of Women in other countries.
Although it is a tiny, traditional island nation, Malta and it’s government are working to eliminate violence against women and gender inequality at many levels. If the recommendations of the social and academic experts in the country are followed regarding best practices in data collection and survivor’s rights there’s no way they can’t reach their goal.