New cases of domestic violence have more than doubled last year when the Foundation for Social Welfare Services, the State agency handling victims of such abuse, reported close to 700 fresh cases.
Statistical trends on this form of abuse were divulged in parliament on Tuesday by Social Policy Minister Michael Falzon in reply to a question by Equality Shadow Minister Claudette Buttigieg.
It transpires that in 2019, the foundation reported 683 new cases of domestic violence, more than double the 319 new incidents reported in 2018. The spike is even more significant as it reversed the declining trend in the number of new reported cases since 2016.
'Increase due to more awareness'
In his reply, the social policy minister justified the increase as the result of government’s commitment to increase public awareness on this form of abuse in a bid to encourage victims seek help.
Falzon pointed out that between 2013 and 2019 the FSWS staff tackling domestic violence cases was doubled from 23 to 47 while the overall budget increased by 58% up to €1.11 million.
Moreover, €2 million are being allocated annually under a private public partnership with private institutions such as Dar Merħba Bik, Dar Qalb ta’ Ġesù and Dar Tereża Spinelli, which are offering shelter to 42 victims. This measure includes a reintegration programme to help victims start a new life.
Overwhelming number of victims are women
A closer look at the data confirms that the overwhelming majority of victims are women.
In 2019, apart from the 683 new cases, the agency handled a further 68 incidents involving persons who had previously sought help, and another 573 cases which had already been known. Consequently, the overall number of individuals who came in contact with the foundation was of 1,300, including 81 men.
Last year, the number of minors (victims aged under 17) seeking help amounted to five, while there were 167 cases involving persons over 60. Most victims (727) were in the 30 to 50 age group.