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‘This Has Nothing To Do With Mental Health!’ Women’s Rights Campaigner Reiterates After Sliema Murder

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One of Malta’s most prominent women’s rights campaigners has hit back at the narrative that the brutal murder of Paulina Dembska that took place in Sliema has something to do with mental health.

“This has nothing to do with mental health!! Do not stigmatise people with mental health problems,” Lara Dimitrijevic said today after 20-year-old murder suspect Abner Aquilina was taken to Mount Carmel upon recommendation by medical experts following police examination.

“There are hundreds, thousands of women with mental health problems living in Malta. You do not see them raping, bludgeoning and killing random men.”

Since being apprehended, it has emerged that Aquilina was hearing “frequencies” that told him to get rid of evil, leading him to kill Dembska in the early hour of the morning in Sliema’s Independence Gardens.

Dimitrijevic believes that Aquilina killed Dembska – a woman – because of what he had been taught via society’s inherent misogyny – and not because of something related to a mental health issue.

“The sources say that the voices he heard told him that he is a soldier of God and that he has to fight evil. Where do you think he got the idea that Evil = woman? And is raping a form of fighting evil? Why not just kill her? Or is it ingrained that we can do with women what we want, especially when we know they are ‘evil’?” she asked.

“Leave the mental health out of this. The state of his mind and what will happen to him will be decided by established legal and medical norms. What happened is coming from one source – misogyny that we implant through upbringing into practically every boy and man’s head.”

“If you want to look for the cause, look there. Misogyny is a very good place to start!”

Malta has been rocked by the brutal murder, which happened just days into the new year. 

Well-informed sources have confirmed that Aquilina had been receiving “orders from frequencies” he had been hearing in the weeks leading up to the murder. 

Aquilina, who has a long history of mental illness, was soon seen to by doctors, who quickly suspended the interrogation and referred the man to Mount Carmel Hospital. 

Dembska’s body was discovered on 2nd January at 6.30am. The national broadcaster, TVM, has claimed that there were signs of violence and sexual assault on Dembska’s body. 

The man was arrested soon after in the Balluta area, around an hour after he entered Balluta Church and caused a scene, overturning seats and referring to what he had just done.

A vigil is being held in Dembska’s memory tomorrow at 6pm in Sliema.

If you or someone you know needs to talk about their mental health, please call national support service 179. Alternatively, visit www.kellimni.com; the Richmond Foundation’s OLLI.chat to get in touch online; or the  Kif Int? website.

What do you make of this shocking incident?

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Johnathan is interested in the weird, wonderful, and sometimes dark realities late capitalist society forces upon us all. He also likes food and music. Follow him at @supreofficialmt on Instagram, and send him news, food and music stories at [email protected]

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