Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar and PL candidate Rebecca Buttigieg have stood up for PN candidate Emma Portelli Bonnici after a priest passed derogatory comments aimed at her on social media because of her pro-choice views.
“I understand all too well what women and young girls must face at the start of their political career,” Cutajar said. “I’ve been experiencing these insults for the past ten years and was threatened a few days ago.”
“Stay strong Emma Portelli Bonnici, everyone has the right to freely express themselves without being subjected to personal attacks.”
“Freedom of expression doesn’t mean you have the freedom to humiliate and insult others; let’s disagree with each other without degenerating into language that incites hatred.”
“The path ahead for women in Maltese politics is tough but you should stay strong, grow a thick skin, keep talking about what you believe in and don’t let anyone intimidate you.”
Buttigieg, a new PL candidate, also stood up for Portelli Bonnici.
“In this country, no one has the right to try and stifle someone else’s voice, most definitely not by hurling insults and derogatory comments at the person just because she is a woman” Buttigieg said.
“Emma Portelli Bonnici and I do not belong to the same party however I will always be an ally and defend her and every woman’s right to speak her mind and campaign for the causes we believe in.”
Reforms Minister Owen Bonnici also expressed his solidarity with Portelli Bonnici.
“Hate speech is always unacceptable. It becomes even more so when the abuse is motivated by gender and a person gets singled out because she is a female,” he tweeted.
I want to express, in the most emphatic and direct manner my full solidarity with @PNmalta candidate Emma Portelli Bonnici.
Hate speech is always unacceptable. It becomes even more so when the abuse is motivated by gender and a person gets singled-out because she is a female.
— •Owen Bonnici (@OwenBonnici) November 4, 2021
Earlier today, Portelli Bonnici reproduced a comment that priest Andrew Borg left in an anti-abortion Facebook group, describing her as “Hitler, a satanist, a murderer, a butcher and a criminal”, even comparing her to King Herod when he committed the Massacre of the Innocents.
His was one of several vicious comments that the PN candidate reproduced, with others calling her “the devil’s daughter”, telling her to “get sterilised” and saying it’s a sin she’s still alive, and others leaving sexual slurs.
Portelli Bonnici said the systematic abuse of women who dare speak about controversial issues, who hold public roles, or who have the audacity to disagree with archaic norms is “unacceptable.”
“Many people – mostly men – have seemingly made it their mission to hurt me, to have me exiled from the PN, to evoke some kind of ‘negative’ reaction from me; to continuously attempt to drag my name through the mud and say absolutely vile – and mostly untrue – things about me online,” she said.
“They do this, in an effort to be good God-fearing Catholics. The same god who preaches about loving thy neighbour, being kind, being empathetic, being a good person.”
“This is the god they purport to represent when they mudsling and pour vitriol out via their keyboards, like the small, cowardly men they are. One of them is even a priest – are these the Christian values you teach during Sunday sermons?”
Do you think female politicians aren’t allowed to voice their progressive opinions in Malta?