The Malta Women’s Lobby is requesting the government to reconsider its stance on a proposed EU directive on violence against women.

Malta Today reported on Thursday that, together with another 16 EU states, Malta is arguing against the European Union having competence on the prosecution of rape.

In its statement, the lobby said that despite the well-documented vulnerability of women in society to gender-based and sexual violence, the Maltese government has chosen to support the removal of rape from a proposed EU directive on violence against women and domestic violence. 

This decision, it said, stood at odds with established European legal norms.

The directive establishes a consent-based definition of rape across the EU.

“This approach aligns with the principles of the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty aimed at combating violence against women."

Malta is a signatory of that convention, which had introduced no consent rape.

Justice Minister Jonathan Attard told Malta Today that Malta's law was in line with the proposed directive but Malta was against allowing the EU to have competence on other aspects of national law by casting a wider obligation on other member states.

The lobby argued that consent-based definition is vital, particularly given that 11 EU  states continue to predominantly define rape based on the use of force, threat, or coercion.

Such definitions have proven to be inadequate in providing comprehensive protection to victims and have often resulted in secondary victimisation, it said.

The lobby urged the government to heed the voices of women's organisations, legal associations, survivors, and the hundreds of thousands of citizens who have signed petitions in favour of a robust directive addressing violence against women.

Legal experts emphasised that their stance is grounded in legal accuracy and further bolstered by the support of European lawyers, academics, and civil society organisations, including women's advocacy groups, it said.

The lobby called on the government to advocate for the inclusion of rape in the proposed directive. Such a reconsideration would represent a significant stride towards the eradication of violence against women and the assurance of justice for victims.

“Failure to do so would further highlight the fact that women’s rights are not high on the Maltese government’s agenda, not to mention the total disrespect towards and disregard for victims of rape,” the lobby charged.

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