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About domestic violence
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Council of Europe recommendation
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Analytical study on the effective implementation of Recommendation Rec(2002)5 on the protection of women against violence in Council of Europe member states
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Final Report on National Action Campaign within framework of Council of Europe Campaign to Combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence

Report from Malta
Ms Maryanne Gauci (National Focal Point), Dr Marceline Naudi (High Level Official).

1. Introduction
Since the submission of the Interim report for this campaign, in July 2007, the High Level Official (further referred to as HLO) and National Focal Point (further referred to as NFP), have continued to work tirelessly and within the constraints of their limited resources in aiming to implement the objectives of the blueprint of the Council of Europe campaign to combat violence against women, including domestic violence.

2. Thematic measures of the Blueprint

    2.1 Legal and policy measures

      The Better Regulation Measure (BRM), a joint project between the then Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity and the Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs, led by the NFP as the project manager and ratified in April, 2007, continued to be monitored. Amendments to the law had achieved a reduction in delay in the appointment of legal aid to the victim, and the reduction in hardship to the victim, in that the counterpart (alleged perpetrator) no longer needed to be informed that the victim had applied for legal aid.
      Monitoring of this measure by the Domestic Violence services staff of the designated agency under the domestic violence legislation (the national social welfare agency, Appogg), showed that over a period of one year up to end February 2008, 216 women benefited, and that legal aid was also being allocated within days of application. This is also being continuously monitored through the sub-committee on services development set up by the Commission on Domestic Violence, which includes representatives of all the direct service providers.
      The Commissioner for Police issued an internal memo to all serving police officers with guidelines on dealing more effectively with reports on domestic violence. The Commission on Domestic Violence corresponded with the Commissioner of Police over the guidelines and obtained permission for copies to be circulated to the managers and the workers in the field of domestic violence.
      Meetings were held with the office of the UNHCR, Malta. The NFP attended a meeting with the UNHCR’s Protection Officer and other representatives of women’s shelters in Malta in February 2008 to discuss the issue of extending shelter services to refugee victims of abuse. The NFP proposed further discussion on the possibility of implementing policies such as having a certain number of places in shelters set aside for refugee victims of abuse. The designated agency’s shelter, as well as the other shelters in operation in Malta already accept victims from any racial/ethnic and religious background.

      The HLO attended a further meeting with the UNHCR in March 2008 to discuss ways of ensuring that women asylum seekers/refugees who experience domestic violence have the information and support needed to access the existing services, and that cultural factors are taken into consideration. The HLO, as Chair of the Commission on Domestic Violence will be contributing to a seminar on gender based violence in May 2008.
      Memorandum of understanding between the Malta Police Force (MPF) and the Ministry for Social Policy (MSP), issued in March, 2008, aimed at continuing to develop and expand a framework of cooperation between MPF and MSP for the provision of social assistance for potential victims of human trafficking.
      The Domestic Violence Commission has persevered in its endeavours to meet with the judiciary to enable it to discuss important issues that are being raised both by frontline workers and by service users. To date, a response is being awaited to a letter written to the Commission for the Administration of Justice delineating the areas of concern. The same areas have been raised with the Parliamentary Secretary within the Ministry for Justice and Home Affairs and a meeting with the Chief Justice has been proposed.
      The NFP as part of her role in the designated agency is in the process of arranging a half-day training seminar/meeting for the Domestic Violence Services of the said agency (with the possibility of staff from other entities attending), to be facilitated by a legal consultant, with the aim of addressing issues in the relatively new DV legislation, as well as identifying the gaps and potential areas of amendment that can be brought to the attention of the appropriate authorities.

    2.2 Support and protection for victims

      The DV Commission through its sub-committee on service development is in the process of discussing standards for the care facilities and also of the services given by the staff, with the aim of working on national standards which are acceptable to all parties. The Commission has liaised with the Department of Social Welfare Standards and will be working with them on these standards. Information on opportunities for training and improvement of services through increasing resources (national and international) are also shared and discussed through this sub-committee.

      The Chairperson of the DV Commission (HLO) and National Focal Point attended the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion’s focus group on Domestic Violence. The main emphasis was on feedback regarding gaps in the Court, social security, employment and housing systems. The Chairperson also attended the focus groups on mental health, refugees, children and young people and the elderly, among others, given the relatedness of these areas to domestic violence.

      The National Focal Point has advocated for preliminary discussions between the designated agency (the employer of the NFP) and the Permanent Secretary for Health, with the aim of setting up Malta’s first Rape Crisis Centre at the new hospital, Mater Dei. The NFP is currently gathering feedback from social work and medical staff that were sent for training in this area under the EU Leonardo bursary project.

      Housing Scheme – the Housing Authority has placed victims of violence as a priority group to benefit from additional points in its Housing schemes resulting in improved housing provision for women escaping domestic violence.

      The designated agency has produced a Pamphlet on the Domestic Violence Legislation, explaining the legislation and the rights of service users, which is in the process of being published, for dissemination mainly to service users and professionals.

      The NFP is in the process of examining more closely the legislation that makes provision for the witnessing of victims via ‘video-conferencing’, in order to create further awareness about and advocacy for its more extensive implementation in the cases of victims of domestic violence.
      Discussions have been ongoing with police officers of the vice squad within the Malta Police Force, regarding the best way of providing support for women reporting domestic violence.
      Special arrangements can be made through the designated agency’s Court Services for victims of domestic violence going through Family Court proceedings, so that they can be placed in the court room prior to the hearing, thereby avoiding having to wait in the presence of the alleged perpetrator outside the court room.
      The NFP has made recommendations as part of her role in the designated agency to run ‘family workshop’ modules for female residents in the agency’s Shelter for victims of domestic violence; as well as possibly run a joint project, ‘women for work’, with the Employment and Training Corporation (under the umbrella of the ACCESS ‘one-stop-shop’ project), with the aims of empowering these residents with the social and employability skills to be more self-confident and gain independence from their domestic violence situation, if that is what they decide.
      An application for the project Dignity for Domestic Violence Survivors under the Cohesion Policy 2007-2013 Operational Programme II, Priority Axis III Empowering People for More Jobs and a Better Quality of Life, has further been put in by the Commission on Domestic Violence as the lead partner with the cooperation of several other organisations. The aims of this project are to increase employment possibilities for women experiencing or escaping domestic violence.
      Public/private partnerships- several one day projects took place with the most recent being on the 19th of March, under ‘Corporate Social Responsibility Day’, which involved the staff members of several private companies making donations in kind or in material to the designated agency’s shelter, and other shelters. These included the carrying out of maintenance work, painting as well as gardening, the provision of curtains, duvee covers and new furniture for the bedrooms, shelving for the storeroom, and play-stations and games for the children. Other well-known local mobile telephony and banking companies, donated a kitchen and portable swimming pool respectively. The DV Commission also made a generous donation to all the shelters, which was used towards the purchasing of a computer for the female residents in the designated agency shelter. Other shelters bought a microwave, heaters, television and DVD players, sofas etc Such initiatives are a form of indirect support to the women victims of domestic violence and that of their children, in having improved their quality of life at the shelter.


    2.3 Data Collection

      The DV Commission’s sub-committee on data collection is seeking methods by which statistics currently gathered by the different entities could be standardised to provide a more comprehensive picture of those seeking help in the area of domestic violence. The replication of a 2003 study commissioned by the then Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity, titled, "Domestic Violence against Women: Perceptions of the Maltese General Public" to the NSO, and the undertaking of service evaluation studies are also being prioritised by the Commission. Another big task being undertaken is that of a prevalence survey for the Maltese islands in order to get a better idea of not only those that report incidences, but also those that do not. This is needed in order to better plan policy and provision of services.

      During the designated agency’s adoption of a comprehensive case-management software system (to standardize the data-base throughout the agencies of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services), proposed for 2009 to replace the existing data-base; the NFP aims to advocate for the main streaming of ‘fields’ related to domestic violence, in order to obtain a more comprehensive picture of the incidence of domestic violence in the cases of the other agency services, as well as the statistical correlation of social problems e.g. child abuse and domestic violence, and substance abuse and domestic violence.

    2.4 Awareness raising

      The NFP approached the NCPE re the possibility of carrying out joint activities to heighten the awareness about domestic violence issues to employers and other target groups. The NCPE enthusiastically welcomed this initiative, and have recommended sensitizing their own staff first. They also suggested including awareness on domestic violence on a project they’re doing for MCAST students.

      The Chairperson and members of the Domestic Violence Commission, participated in the various seminars, conferences and other activities, enabling the Commission to emphasize the importance of Domestic Violence as an issue in Malta, as well as gather useful information, and enable networking with national and international entities; as will be seen below.

      e.g. Think Tank – Involving Men in Gender Equality organized by the Employment and Training Corporation on Monday 19 November 2007 (the NFP also attended this ‘think tank’).

Meetings:

      with His Excellency Mgr Pawlu Cremona, Archbishop of Malta on 06th July 2007. Several areas of collaboration were agreed upon, which included the issue of domestic violence being discussed through the College of Chaplains, as well as presented on religious media programmes. Other suggestions included that talks on this issue could be included in the programme of lectures to couples preparing for marriage. The issue of teenage perpetrators was also discussed.
      The NFP also followed-up with the Archbishop of Malta regarding his approval of the request in March, 2007, for the staff from the designated agency’s domestic violence services to give talks on domestic violence to parish priests and seminarians; as to date this has not eventuated.
      with the Chairperson and Focal Point of the National Commission on Drugs, Alcohol and Other Substances on the 17th September, 2007. Common areas were acknowledged and it was agreed that items included in the draft Drugs Policy relate to the domestic violence field. Advice was offered as a result of their own experience in the standardising of data.
      with representatives of the various political parties, the Nationalist Party, the Labour Party and the Alternativa Demokratika (Green Party). Points discussed included the need for more social work and psychology staff to enable the maintenance of quality standards.
      with the Vice President Chamber of Advocates, and other representatives on the 15th October, 2007. It was agreed that a joint seminar/workshop would be organised on the issue of domestic violence, with the participation of the judiciary, advocates, mediators and the police, with the aim of further sensitizing this target group on domestic violence, as well as highlighting the issues of concern and areas for collaboration in this area. The importance of expediting social work court reports was emphasised as well as the issue of payment for them.
      and with a representative of Amnesty International Malta in respect of a research programme they had undertaken with service users on domestic violence services in Malta.

    Campaigns:

      The White Ribbon Campaign, Malta, and an art competition with the theme “Portray a Home without violence” for students aged between 8 to 16 years, were held in November, 2007, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The competition was a DV Commission initiative, organized by its sub-committee for a National Publicity Campaign, which has a representative from the Foundation for Social Welfare Service’s Marketing Team as well as a Ministry representative on it. The sub-committee worked in collaboration with the Democracy and values Education section within the Education Division. The aim was to create awareness about domestic violence amongst school age students, from a positive perspective. However, the result was that a significant amount of entries had elements of domestic violence portrayed. It was recommended that this be analyzed. A prize giving ceremony for the successful participant who had been selected by a Board comprised of representatives from a cross-section of entities was held in the presence of the then Minister for Family and Social Solidarity. The activity was also sponsored by some of Malta’s leading private businesses – a mobile telephony company, and sports and bookshop outlets.

      The White Ribbon Campaign, Malta, was carried out in collaboration between the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) and the DV Commission (through its sub-committee). It was the first time such a campaign was held in Malta, with the aim of encouraging men to take a role in actively encouraging other men to speak out against violence. It was also launched in the presence of the then Minister for Family and Social Solidarity. White ribbons were distributed by top media personalities and the Chief Executive of FSWS to members of Parliament as they were entering a parliamentary sitting. They were also distributed to Heads of Programmes to be worn on this International Day. At a later stage, the posters and bookmarks made for this campaign were sent to all Local Councils, and Health Clinics which in turn disseminated them to the general public.

      The Bus Shelter Campaign was launched in January 2008 by the DV Commission in collaboration with the Local Councils Association. The Poster of the Council of Europe Campaign was displayed in ‘life size’ on bus shelters throughout Malta and the neighbouring island of Gozo for the month of January. This was a continuing promotion of the Council of Europe campaign as well as the messages of zero tolerance to violence. Leaflets were also distributed by the various local councils.

      2.4.2 Other awareness raising activities:

      The Walkathon with the theme “Women for Women”- In October 2007, this walkathon was held with the aim of raising greater awareness about domestic violence, and to raise funds for the designated agency’s Shelter. This activity was on the initiative of private organizers in collaboration with the designated agency as part of the Foundation for Welfare Services, and the theme was women and men for women. The DV Commission sponsored several representatives to take part in the walk. It was also a fund-raising activity, and was a success.

      The Archbishop of Malta and the newly elected Minister of Social Policy visited the designated agency’s shelter for victims of violence, in March, 2008. This coincided with the Public/Private partnership Corporate Social Responsibility activity mentioned earlier in the report. The visit was especially significant, as it was the first visit by the relatively new Archbishop to the shelter, and one of the Minister’s first activities in his new role. Both dignitaries had the opportunity to meet the female residents and their children personally, together with the management and staff of the Foundation and the designated agency, and in private, away from media coverage. It was an excellent opportunity for residents to convey the issues that affected them the most, and for the staff to raise the most pertinent issues related to domestic violence in their line of work.
      The majority of the above-mentioned campaigns and awareness raising activities received wide media coverage.
      Media – between February, 2007 and January, 2008, representatives of the DV Commission and the designated agency, participated in 16 television and radio programmes, and wrote or contributed to 8 articles on the subject of domestic violence. Representatives from the designated agency also gave 4 talks to parents’ groups, as well as college and university students, to continue raising awareness on the subject.


Training:

      Grundtvig 3, EU Funded Project. The Director, EU and International Affairs, in the then Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity informed the DV Commission about a request from ‘Centro Studi Il Perugino’, Italy, for Malta to be partners with them, hence enabling social workers to attend training sessions on domestic violence as part of a project titled ‘Acting on the Background for a higher Climbing up of Women Survivors of Violence.’ The Commission forwarded the information to social workers and management of the designated agency, who deal with cases of domestic violence. Management wished to nominate 2 social workers, but were only able to submit on name from the Domestic Violence Service’s staff, who will be attending in June 2008.

      Daphne projects- A German therapeutic agency contacted the Foundation for Social Welfare Services enquiring whether it would be interested in being a partner on the project, with a focus on ‘training the trainer’ in the area of post-traumatic stress syndrome in victims of domestic violence. The designated agency has indicated interest and is in the process of trying to raise funds for the 20 percent contribution. If successful, the agency will send a worker to be trained, and in turn could contribute to organizing integrated training to a range of professionals; this being a form of indirect support for victims

      The Chairperson of the DV Commission as Malta’s representative on the Daphne III project, attended a meeting in Brussels on 7 September 2007 and put forward Malta’s position as instructed through the Directorate (EU and International Affairs) within the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity. The Daphne Programme is aimed to prevent and combat violence against children, young people and women and to protect persons experiencing violence and groups at risk. On the Chair’s return a meeting was organized with various interested entities so that information on applying for Daphne funds could be shared. As the call for applications is officially out, ongoing meetings are considering the possibility of the submission of a joint application for funds to cover a project which would involve training of staff working in the field, exchange visits etc. The designated agency will be one of the partners with the DV Commission in submitting the application.
      The ‘National Publicity Campaign’s’ sub-committee of the DV Commission has also placed an Application under the European Social Fund (ESF), for funding to continue awareness raising activities amongst professionals and the general public, and enhance co-operation between all stakeholders concerned, as well as continue to promote zero tolerance to violence amongst the Maltese population.

      MOVE (Men Over Violent Emotions), an Irish organization contacted the designated agency to be a partner under one of the Daphne projects, with the aim of setting up a European Directory on individuals and entities which provide a service to perpetrator’s of domestic violence. The designated agency agreed to be partners and is awaiting a reply. This will provide the agency with an excellent source of co-ordinated information, and opportunity for networking with European colleagues in this area, for the benefit of our service users.
      The designated agency is in the process of trying to raise funds for the Co-ordinator of its Shelter for victims to attend the first ever World Congress on Shelters later in 2008.

The HLO and NFP continuously ‘scout’ for training opportunities for workers in the field, as continued professional development in the area of domestic violence through involvement in such EU projects, not only enhances the skills of professionals working with victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, but also contributes to heightening awareness at more advanced levels. This in turn is a form of indirect support to the victims of domestic violence, vis--vis the improved quality of service.

      The NFP aims to do a follow-up presentation to the management of the designated agency regarding the C of E campaign and the final report, reflecting the continuing work of the High level official and herself; as well as presentations to the FSWS Board of Directors, to continue to promote the Blueprint of the C of E Campaign, and the issue of DV with higher authorities, in an effort to further place DV on the agenda as one of the priorities, and with the aim of gaining more resources and further ensuring quality of service delivery.

3. Conclusion
As can be seen, a comprehensive effort was made by the High Level Official and the National Focal Point in the areas of the blueprint of the Council of Europe Campaign to combat violence against women. The area of awareness raising probably comprised the greatest results in this campaign. This is most likely because it is an area where the High Level Government official & NFP had more resources available to them, and the autonomy to exert the most control over the initiatives and outcomes. Work on the other areas of the blueprint often required even more resources and meant working through a mire of bureaucracy.

    Among the areas for future intense work are:

      The continued sensitization of professionals such as the judiciary, police, doctors and related health professionals among others, to the issues of domestic violence,
      Advocacy for the guaranteed protection of witnesses,
      Advocacy for further effective legal protection, such as the increased implementation of protection orders,
      further monitoring of certain initiatives e.g. BRU measure mentioned in the first bullet point of 2.1 of this report- The NFP aims to implement a tighter monitoring system, with the introduction of specific forms in order to obtain more accurate statistics regarding the number of beneficiaries of this new system, and regular feedback about its efficiency, in collaboration with the DV Commission’s sub-committee on service development.
      To carry out the suggestion of a follow-up questionnaire/survey in relation to the Police guidelines, involving police officers and victims of violence, within an appropriate time-frame after the guidelines have been in place for an established period of time, in order to monitor the effectiveness of these guidelines.
      Advocacy for the introduction of new initiatives-the NFP aims to approach the Directorate for social policy development in the Ministry for Social Policy regarding further collaboration on new BRU measures in relation to either social security, employment, housing, and court systems that might be hindering the progress of a victim of domestic violence.
      Further discussions with the office of the UNHCR in relation to extending shelter services for refugee victims of abuse
      Ongoing media campaigns, articles, radio and television appearances-in addition, campaigns such as the ‘White Ribbon’ campaign to be an annual event. As well as continuing to carry out domestic violence awareness raising related activities to mark annual International Days, such as, International Women’s Day, Elimination of Violence against Women, and Victims Day.

    The HLO and NFP will strive to continue carrying out this work in spite of the Council of Europe Campaign officially coming to an end. On the contrary, the campaign has given the impetus and a framework for this work to continue, to ensure that the voice of victims is never silenced, their plight never forgotten, and that zero tolerance to violence will be achieved.

    Maryanne Gauci/Dr Marceline Naudi
    April, 2008

National Plans of Action

Furthermore, please identify whether your government has adopted and/or implemented a National Plan of Action to combat violence against women, including domestic violence during the course of the Council of Europe Campaign.

The Commission on Domestic Violence which was set up as a result of the Domestic Violence Act (2006) has used the four thematic areas identified in the campaign blue print to organise the areas needing work in relation to domestic violence in Malta. This is being reported in this year’s annual report (in the process of being published) as follows:

National Action Plan on Domestic Violence

National Action Plan

As suggested in last year’s report the Commission looked to the Council of Europe blueprint for the campaign to eliminate violence against women, including domestic violence, as the major foundation for the development of Malta’s National Action Plan for the sector 1.

In the introduction of the blueprint several clear and bold statements are made which have been kept in mind by the Commission:

    Violence against women is the result of an imbalance of power between women and men, leading to serious discrimination against women, both within society and the family.
    Violence against women is a violation of human rights, the very nature of which deprives women of their ability to enjoy fundamental freedoms.
    Violence against women is a detriment to peace, security and democracy in Europe.

The blueprint then goes on to delineate four main areas of measures which would need to be considered: a. Legal and policy measures; b. Support and protection for victims; c. Data collection; d. Awareness raising. The Commission has been working more specifically on the latter three areas through the setting up of three sub-committees.

a. Legal and policy measures
In the Council of Europe blueprint this area has several sub-headings, some of which are already in hand in Malta (e.g. protection orders; legal aid, psycho-social support, safety planning) and others of which we need to work on, including the monitoring and review of legislation and measures provided for by the law. Since our law has only been in place for two years this is something we hope to be able to tackle in the future.

b. Support and protection for victims
Once again, in the Council of Europe blueprint, there are several sub headings under this measure, and once again, several of these are already in hand in Malta, whilst others require further work.

The Commission set up a sub-committee on Service Development with representatives of the main direct welfare service providers in the field of domestic violence, both public entities and NGO’s, i.e. the various shelters, the Domestic Violence Services of Appogg (the designated agency) and the Gozitan Social work services. An ex-service user also sits on this sub-committee.

This sub-committee helps co-ordinate the various work of the direct service providers through sharing of information. Standards for the care facilities and also of the services given by the staff are being discussed with the intention of working on national standards which are acceptable to all parties. We have liaised with the Department of Social Welfare Standards and will be working with them on this. Information on opportunities for training and improvement of services through increasing resources (national and international) are also shared and discussed through this forum.

The work done through this sub-committee meets several of the requirements of the Commission’s terms of reference as per the Domestic Violence Act (2006):

(c) strategies to expose domestic violence and to facilitate the intervention of public and private agencies and entities with respect to victims and perpetrators of such violence;
(e) ways to facilitate communication between public and private agencies and entities involved in action against domestic violence;
(f) standards for care facilities for victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, including public or private shelter services or facilities;
(g) standards and protocols for practitioners;
(h) procedures for the effective co-ordination on a national level of the activities of public and private agencies and entities engaged in the giving of services on domestic violence issues including support services;
(k) specialized training for professional groups involved; and
(l) consulting and networking with other relevant national and international entities.”

c. Data collection
The following terms of reference of the Commission would fall under this heading:
(b) areas of domestic violence on which research is necessary or desirable;
(i) a comprehensive and co-ordinated plan for the collection of data concerning domestic violence for use by the courts, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, health care practitioners, social workers and other agencies and entities in a manner that protects the identity of victims of domestic violence;
(l) consulting and networking with other relevant national and international entities.”

The Commission has set up a sub-committee on research and data collation. The various entities that touch with people who are experiencing or escaping domestic violence are represented on this sub-committee through their research/statistics personnel. These include representatives from the Law Courts, Health, Foundation for Social Welfare Services, National Statistics Office etc.

The sub-committee is looking at ways in which statistics currently gathered by the different entities could be standardised to provide a better picture of those seeking help. The replication of a 2003 study commissioned by the then Ministry for Social Policy titled "Domestic Violence against Women: Perceptions of the Maltese General Public" to the NSO and the undertaking of service evaluation studies are also being prioritised by the Commission for the medium term. Another big task being undertaken is that of a prevalence survey for the Maltese islands in order to get a better idea of not only those that report incidences, but also those that do not. This is needed in order to better plan policy and provision of services.

d. Awareness raising
The following terms of reference of the Commission would fall under this heading:

(a) increasing the awareness and understanding of domestic violence and harassment and their consequences and on ways and means to reduce their incidence;
(d) educating the public on all aspects of domestic violence;
(e) ways to facilitate communication between public and private agencies and entities involved in action against domestic violence;
(l) consulting and networking with other relevant national and international entities.”

The Commission set up a sub-committee for a national publicity campaign to plan and co-ordinate media events on domestic violence based on a two-year period2. Public relations personnel from the Foundation for Social Welfare Services and the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity sit on this subcommittee together with two Commission members. This helps in dovetailing of activities, reducing duplication and increasing cooperation between these main entities. One of the factors continuously considered is to try to ensure that the current services are not swamped with referrals as a result of the publicity.

The Blueprint once again makes some bold statements in its concluding message which are similarly considered by the Commission in its work:

    Combating domestic violence calls for joint public action
    Domestic violence is a human rights violation
    Domestic violence seriously injures women and damages the whole of society, including future generations
    Domestic violence calls for men’s active participation to combat violence against women.

Assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign

The Task Force will partly base its assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign to combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence on the following indicators. Please respond by ticking on the boxes.

    1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalised in your country?

      YES qX NO q

Acts of violence against women in the private domain are covered by the Domestic Violence Act (2006) and acts of violence in the public domain are covered by the Criminal Code.

2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (eg. gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance)?

      YES qX NO q

The aggravating circumstance is the relation of the aggressor to the victim. The Domestic Violence Act (2006) includes a list of those considered ‘household members’ which clearly includes partners and former partners regardless of whether they actually reside in the same household or not.

3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (eg. specialised courts on domestic violence, specialised units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?

      YES q NO Xq

This is an area that requires work. We are in the process of liaising with various entities, such as the judiciary, police etc to attempt to ease the situation of women seeking justice.

4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?

      YES qX NO q

A free 24-hour help line is available in Malta through Supportline 179. This service was originally set up for people experiencing domestic violence but is now a general helpline. It is operated by trained volunteers and managed by the national social welfare agency. Supportline volunteers can also access other emergency services as necessary.

5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state? 3

      YES qX NO q

An ‘adequate number’ is defined in the blueprint as one place in a women’s shelter per 7,500 inhabitants. Basing on a population of 400,000 this means we need to provide 53 places in shelters. In the Maltese islands, we currently have 3 first stage shelters and 1 second stage shelter, as well as a woman’s hostel that is used as an overspill when necessary. Between them they provide approximately the needed amount of beds for women and their accompanying children. However if we had to count only the actual 1st stage shelters we would only have 34 places (of which 6 are currently out of action).
1st Stage Shelters: Ghabex 4 shared rooms with 15 beds total to accommodate both the women and their children; Merhba Bik 13 individual rooms for women and their children; Dar Carolina 6 rooms for women and their children (currently not available due to refurbishing). 2nd Stage Shelter: Dar Qalb ta’ Gesu’ 9 individual flats. Women’s Hostel: Dar Tereza Spinelli 17 beds in total to accommodate both the women and their children.

6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?

      YES q X NO q

One of the tasks being tackled by the Commission on Domestic Violence’s sub-committee on Research and Data Collation is the standardisation of statistics being collected by the different agencies so as to provide a more comprehensive and accurate picture of the current situation. At the moment statistics are collected by the various shelters (data on women who use their services), by the main social welfare agency (data on women who use their services, and which would include almost all the women in the shelters) and by the police (which would include only those that make an official report, some of whom would also be included on the other agencies’ records). The Courts and the Health Services have data available, though not ‘collected’ in relation to domestic violence.

7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?

      YES q NO qX

Note 1 For a full assessment of Malta’s position in relation to the campaign as of June 2007, access
Note http://www.coe.int/t/dg2/equality/domesticviolencecampaign/Source/Proceedings_FocPtsConf_withCover.pdf
Note 2 for full report on activities see appendix D
Note 3 The Blueprint of the Council of Europe Campaign recommends a ratio for one place in a woman’s shelter per 7.500 inhabitants.