Around 30 people a year have been charged with rape in Malta since 2017, new parliamentary figures have revealed.
Following a parliamentary question from MP Ivan Bartolo, Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri revealed that since 2017, 115 cases of rape had gone before the courts, with 71 people being found guilty.
No further information was given regarding the offenders’ age or gender.
The figures fail to paint a full picture, with a significant number of cases going unreported, particularly in a Maltese society where abuse often takes place within tight-knit communities and is in some cases amongst relatives.
One university study found that roughly 85% of sexual assault cases go unreported.
It is made even harder with time-barring. Time-barring prevents victims from reporting the assault to the police after a certain period. Minors, for example, are given 10 to 15 years (depending on the case) to report the crime.
This means that if a person was eight-years-old when they were sexually abused, they would have till 24 to come forward.
The Maltese government has fought hard against sexual offences, with the country’s laws undergoing a significant overhaul 2017 and 2018. The Istanbul Convention was ratified, while the legal definition of rape was tied to the concept of consent and extended to include more forms of unwanted sexual assault.
However, the number of reported victims per year has remained consistent since 2008, potentially indicating that despite the government’s best efforts, many victims simply do not report their crimes.
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