Domestic violence has been a pressing issue for many decades now, but even with increasing awareness being raised on a daily basis, things are still dire. And nowhere is that more evident, unfortunately, than Malta.
A survey requested by the European Commission, Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, and co-ordinated by the Directorate-General for Communication brought some of these issues to light.
1. 47% of Maltese people agree that “women often make up or exaggerate claims of abuse or rape”
Yes, that’s nearly half of all people asked. It also puts Malta as the worst in this regard in the entirety of the European Union… with a considerable 3% lead over runners-up Cyprus. On the other side of the spectrum, Sweden scored a mere (and admirable) 8%.
2. 40% think “violence against women is often provoked by the victim”
This also puts Malta in the top tiers of shame… third, actually. Victim-blaming is one of the most talked-about issues right now when it comes domestic violence worldwide, and it seems like nearly half of all Maltese people asked didn’t really get the memo. Sweden and Netherlands lead the other side of the coin, with 9% and 6% respectively.
3. 36% believe “at least one situation justifies” having sexual intercourse without consent
This one was a multiple-choice question, but we’re going to go out on a limb here and say that this is definitely not the desired answer. Malta just about made it on the top 10 in the (bad) top of this list… 8th if you count countries which are tied. Sweden is yet again at the better bottom of this list, with another very low 6%.
4. Somehow, though, more than half agree that “women are more likely to be raped by a stranger than someone they know”
So, while all the other results point to Maltese people thinking women exaggerate (or even downright make up) claims of domestic violence and rape, or that they might even provoke attacks, or that even “at least one situation justifies” sexual intercourse without consent… 52% believe it’s definitely not them.
Never mind that multiple studies have shown that three out of four rapes are committed by someone known to the victim (especially one who might even bring themselves to justifying it during an official survey); it’s more likely to happen because of a stranger. Heck, probably a foreigner.
Thankfully, 96% of Maltese people are aware of the multiple support services for women who are victims of domestic violence.
But what does that really mean?
At surface value, this is a positive statistic. A very positive one, actually. Malta’s extremely high 96% (tied with Germany) is only bested (by a mere 1%) by Sweden, which dominated all the previous statistics as far as positive results go.
However, with four very worrying statistics tied to the same survey, is this really that good of a result, or does it only mean that perpetrators of domestic violence (and even rape) don’t feel the same amount of responsibility for their actions because they know a lot of support services can help “soften the blow” they’ve inflicted upon their victims?
Lovin Malta reached out to Victim Support Malta, one such support service, to find out what they had to say about these five statistics.
“Whilst it is highly concerning to see the high degree of victim blaming attitudes which was exhibited by Maltese participants, it is unfortunately not surprising,” said Krista Tabone, VSM’s Director . “A lot of people minimise domestic violence. We have so many clients who come to us thinking that their partner may have had a right to become violent, and this notion if often emphasised by the people around them. If you tell someone that your partner was abusive and the follow up question is ‘but what did you do?’, it doesn’t instil too much confidence in the person who is opening up to seek further help and support.”
“In relation to sexual assault, we find that the myth that rape is usually committed by strangers is still widely believed,” Krista continued. “The majority of sexual assault victims know the person who abused them, and people seem to have an issue with believing that someone could do this to someone that they know. As one might imagine, this creates a huge issue when the victim attempts to seek justice for the crime which was committed against them. The constant need to justify why and how you did or didn’t resist and the questions about why the victim ended up in that situation, all adds to the severe victim blaming attitude seen in these statistics.”
Sadly, it seems, the opinions of someone who’s directly involved in all this and has extensive experience does not tally too well with the answers which were given during this survey, and this merely intensifies the problem at hand.
“It’s clear that there is still a long way to go in relation to improving attitudes,” Krista concluded. “And it needs to begin with implementing policy and practice in relation to victims’ rights.”