Sarah* is a Maltese teenager stuck in a legal battle since her earliest memories, a battle to be accepted as her father’s daughter. She spoke to Lovin Malta about her and her mother’s ongoing struggle.
My situation is probably something most people won’t ever think about, but it’s a travesty that my family have had to live through for over a decade in Malta.
I spent the first four years of my life living with “father unknown” written on my birth certificate – even though we knew exactly who the father was.
We didn’t have the easiest life, my mother and I, as I grew up – and when my father passed away, my mother wanted me to claim my inheritance as we were living quite precariously and needed it.
Before we could do this though, we wanted to renew my birth certificate so it showed who my father really was.
However, it wasn’t so easy – my father had another family, which he considered his main family, with a wife and children.
And my father’s wife and children disputed our claims and made it very difficult for us to have my birth certificate renewed.
The process was very rigorous, with both myself and my mother having to take multiple DNA tests. Finally, when I was in Grade Six, it was renewed.
I still remember the day I walked into the office of the headmistress at my school to hand her a copy of my new birth certificate with my father’s name, and my new surname… I was so proud of myself. I was finally being recognised for the person I was.
But after the case for the birth certificate was finished, the one for the inheritance started, and that is still going on until today. And the court expenses to do this put my mother into further poverty and till this day we haven’t received any compensation for that.
When I read the news and see all these stories of injustices and court delays in Malta, I realise that there are many victims to the sometimes unjust and bureaucratic system adopted by the courts of Malta.
At the end of the day, justice delayed is justice denied for the victim, the victim’s family and the offender.
The rehabilitation and reformation which he was supposed to be provided by the state were stripped away and, in effect, my family and myself never got closure.
The pitiful state of Malta’s prisons as described in the shocking exposé written by Daniel Holmes matched with the decades of not even a response from the institutions which are meant to uphold the justice and rule of law of this island results in pain for everyone involved.
To this day I suffer at the hands of the courts. Trying to get justice for me and my mother who have been so deeply wronged by a system that left us to suffer in poverty is tedious.
I fought hard to be recognised as my father’s daughter, in the same way, I fought hard to be recognised as a young woman with opinions. I don’t plan to stay quiet and lay down in front of people that don’t want to see progress but rather wish to conform to the status quo not caring whether it will ruin lives.
Thinking of all this, I can’t help but dwell on a quote that resonated with me from Daniel Holmes’ auto-biography: “I see a day in the future when I will be able to close the book on this chapter of my life. It will only happen when others open it.”
*As told to Lovin Malta’s Johnathan Cilia. Names have been changed for the protection of those involved