The CEO of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services has questioned whether Maltese NGOs like the Women’s Rights Foundation truly have the wellbeing of women as their priority if they publicly support abortion.
In an article he wrote for Maltese newspaper It-Torċa, Alfred Grixti pointed to a series of facts that made him doubt whether the WRF and other Maltese NGOs truly had women’s best interests at heart, and showed the mindset of the man tasked with fighting domestic violence in Malta in the process.
Foundation for Social Welfare Services CEO Alfred Grixti
1. He questioned how anyone supporting abortion could say they support women’s rights
“For me, this is really ironic. The Women’s Rights Foundation, who were the promotors of this march, is the most vocal NGO to speak out in favour of abortion in Malta. Then you have the church organisation ‘Ejjew Għandi’ who will also be taking part in the march. This is ironic. They are supposed to be in favour of life – always. I believe that you cannot choose on this. So it is ironic for them to march against violence on women and then be in favour of abortion. And, let me clarify, this is not a religious issue.”
2. And he wondered how anyone who wanted to protect children could march “shoulder to shoulder” with these NGOs
“As a foundation, we are legally responsible for the safeguarding of children, because they are the most vulnerable. We have often placed care orders on children are not yet born, especially in cases of drug abuse. As a national agency we cannot be shoulder to shoulder with who is in favour of abortion that, in the same breath, want to create an awareness against domestic violence. When a pregnant woman is killed, it is indeed a double murder!”
3. He then called for “coherence” so as not to confuse vulnerable people
“That is why we want to be coherent with vulnerable people who come for our help as well as theirs – be it women, children, and yes, even children in the wombs of their mothers!”
4. And clarified exactly what domestic abuse is
“There are a lot of interpretations when it comes to murders related to domestic violence. It will be considered domestic violence when there is an intimate relationship where there is physical, emotional, or psychological violence, as well as financial blackmail, for a long time, and the woman remains there and this eventually leads to femicide.”
“And there must be a trend. We have to be careful about classifying these ‘out of the blue’ murders as a product of domestic violence.”
5. But reminded everyone the FSWS is fighting hard against domestic violence
“As an entity, we were the first in Malta to work on domestic violence – we did not wait for NGOs to hold their rallies. We were alone.”
6. He also alleged that Maltese NGOs have been given €10 million in government funds
“This year, the majority of NGOs that signed the petition and marched in Valletta split between them a budget of €10 million. This is equal to 64% of the FSWS’ budget!”
7. And criticised NGOs for trying to help the family of a murdered woman with their funeral costs
“When it comes to the funeral and the lack of funds for it to occur, we spoke to Community Chest Fund and they immediately agreed to give the donation they always give: €700. We didn’t stay playing for the peanut gallery. It saddens me to say that it is not ethical to reveal that this family is poor. Professionalism means you work quietly without exposing the person. I don’t agree with the fact that it was released that this family didn’t have enough money to do the funeral – that is sensationalism.”
Pictured: Lara Dimitrijevic, Women’s Rights Foundation
The Women’s Rights Foundation have responded to his criticism in a public post
1) No definition of femicide include expression “… u l-mara tibqa’ hemm u fl-ahhar mill-ahhar dan iwassal ghall-femicidju.’ (…and a woman remains there and this will lead to femicide). This is commonly referred to as victim blaming and it is tragic that a head of an authority tasked with supporting victims fails to understand the issue at such a basic level.
2) We are disappointed to see that the same CEO has publicly declared that FSWS will not co-operate with Women’s Rights foundation. This is sad indeed since from its inception, WRF has worked round the clock with social workers within Agenzija Appogg, particularly the hard working and dedicated Domestic Violence Unit to ensure that victims are provided with the best support.
That, according to his statement, this decision was made on purely ideological grounds, because WRF is supporting sexual and reproductive rights, is nothing short of unbelievable.
The cost of his dogmatic decision will be borne by the very people his agency is supposed to serve and protect. Not to mention that this goes explicitly against the spirit of Istanbul convention, which is the law of the country that clearly states that cooperation between state entities and NGO should be encouraged.
3) Regarding his statement that “majority of NGOs” that participated in the march against femicide received state funding to the tune of 10 million euro, we would kindly ask him for more details, because if that’s the case, we want our share. WRF has never received state funding.
Secondly, the increase in resources NGOs demanded in the press statement clearly referred to resources allocated to the police, judiciary and, yes FSWS. We are painfully aware that introduction of Istanbul convention will put more pressure on their allocated budgets and that they will simply need more. It beggars belief that one could think that this is a bad thing.
Regardless of Mr. Grixti’s statement, we wish to honour social workers, employees of the FSWS, that work tirelessly with us hand in hand, day and night, to provide the most vulnerable with the best possible service available. They are the pride and honour of their foundation and deserve all respect for their efforts.