As COVID-19 cases continue to balloon, Malta imposed stricter measures to curb its spread, like mandatory mask-wearing in public. However, one Malta-based British woman fears it might be at the expense of women’s safety.
“What happens when a woman is walking on her own when it’s late, dark and everyone has their face covered? If she gets assaulted, how will we be able to identify the attacker?” 37-year-old Renee Naz said in a video sent to Lovin Malta.
The tourism worker explained that she made the video after the issue was raised with her female colleagues who were concerned about walking home from work.
“Not all of us are lucky to have cars, so when we walk down the streets we would like to feel safe. This mask is making me feel very unsafe when walking at night.”
It seems like a double-edged sword for those who fear walking alone at night unable to see people’s faces covered by masks, but the threat of COVID-19 is still pertinent.
“When masks became mainstream in the pandemic, there were women who had previously experienced assault and felt uncomfortable wearing them,” Women’s Rights Foundation’s Andrea Dibben pointed out to Lovin Malta.
“It is a legitimate concern, particularly for survivors of abuse. It is worrying because perpetrators are given an excuse to hide their identity when carrying out attacks,” she continued, but added that the majority of assaults are carried out by people whom the victim knows.
“Having said that, we still need to protect each other from the virus”.
The feminist activist and lawyer Dibben said that the issue should encourage a discussion into how we can make our streets safer.
“Malta could look into having more police patrol at night, CCTV cameras and ensure that every street is well lit.”
The only instances when not wearing the covering is allowed is during exercise, delivering a public speech and when authorities need to verify your identity, like when entering a bank.
Otherwise, you can suffer a €50 to €100 fine.
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