With the fight against domestic violence firmly on the international and national agenda, Malta’s rates of domestic violence have displayed a worrying upward trend since 2010.
Parliamentary figures tabled by Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia show that the number of domestic violence cases has more than doubled from 2010 (659 cases) to 2018 (1341 cases).
The growth has been consistent, with cases increasing annually by an average of just under 10% over the 8 year period. Only two of the years saw slight decreases of under 1%.
Examining the figures through gender presents interesting comparisons. While women do form the overwhelming majority of victims aged between 18 and 59, accounting for 80% (7,225) of all domestic violence victims, the disparity becomes almost negligible when looking at under-18s and those over 60.
When it cases of domestic violence of minors (under 18), 381 of the victims were female while 351 were male. In comparison, for over 60s, there were 554 female victims and 345 male victims
In the last few years, domestic violence cases have begun to locally dominate the media and public consciousness, with Malta’s Opposition leader Adrian Delia facing similar allegations himself.
The issue reached its pitch in September 2018 with the high-profile murder of a mother of five in 2018 resulting in a protest against feminicide being held in Valletta.
The protest, which was attended by outgoing President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Deputy Speaker Claudette Buttigieg, was called over the perceived indifference in the country towards an epidemic of domestic abuse.
The figures do seem to indicate as much, however, growing awareness, the introduction of robust laws and more visible support networks may be resulting in more victims reporting such cases, rather than the number of victims and cases increasing.
The parliamentary figures, requested by Buttigieg, also provide an insight into the Domestic Violence Services (APPOGG).
Cases at APPOGG mostly involve women, accounting for 2,384 of the 2,471 total.
The number of new cases at APOGG has also grown, but nowhere near the same rate as it has for police reports. However, the number of cases still open remains high, jumping up from 420 in 2010 to 659 as of June 2018.