Protestors marched along the St Julian's/Sliema promenade on Friday evening calling for an end to violence against women in a “Reclaim the Night” march.

Around a hundred people marched from the LOVE monument in St Julian's to Ġnien l-Indipendenza in Sliema just hours after the late Bernice Cassar's funeral, held at the Żebbuġ parish church.

That ceremony was packed with mourners who went to pay their respects to the murdered mother-of-two.

Cassar was killed while driving to work at Paola on Tuesday. She was shot twice with her estranged husband charged with her murder.

She is the third woman murdered this year. 

Photo: Daniel TihnPhoto: Daniel Tihn

The protestors gathered in the same garden where Polish student Paulina Dembska was raped and murdered in January.

Protestors carried placards reading "Women don't owe you anything" and "Stop blaming girls and women". Others held up pictures of Bernice and Paulina. 

The Reclaim the Night march was fronted by Moviment Graffiti along with more than 20 NGOs. It was the first Reclaim the Night march held in Malta - a movement that started in the UK in the 1970s and which later spread across the globe.

 ‘We don’t want to be quiet’

Speaking on behalf of Moviment Graffiti, Arianna Zunino said 2022 is an "upsetting year" with three women murdered. Protestors will not remain silent, she stressed.

“We will not forget Paulina, Rita Ellul (who was strangled in Gozo) and Bernice and all the women who have been killed because they were women and we will not stop fighting for justice,” Zunino told the crowd.

"We will not remain silent, we will not forget the women who were murdered because they were women."

Zunino mentioned other cases of sexual harassment reported in recent weeks, including the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra sexual harassment case. A male official at the MPO admitted to sexually harassing a female member of the orchestra, who resigned because of the “excessive stress” caused by the abuse.

“This woman tried to seek help from her CEO, and she was told that she was exaggerating and that her perspective wasn’t objective,” she said. 

She also spoke about Emma Attard, a woman who was allegedly raped by a Mount Carmel carer in her home earlier this year.

“What happened to her is disgusting, and we want justice for all the other girls and women who experienced stories of harassment and abuse.” 

Compared to a sexual object and a monster

Malta Gay Rights Movement activist Amanda Cossai spoke of her experience as a trans woman.

"One moment people treat us as a sexual object, the next as a monster," she said.

"When I meet people for the first time, they ask me if I prefer men or women, to see if they are 'safe'. It just goes to show how people believe we only think of sex - which is far from the truth."

Performers and musicians also took part in the demonstration, during which stories of some 26 women who experienced violence, abuse and sexism were also read. 

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