Malta fares better than most European countries when it comes to violence against women, however the severity of the violence here ranks with the worst, according to a new report.

This European index, by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), shows Malta also has the highest number of women victims who speak up.

The data, which is being published today following a resolution by the European Parliament on combating sexual harassment, shows that 47 per cent of European women who have experienced violence have never told anyone. Disclosed violence is only a fraction of the reality.

“Violence against women is a cause and a consequence of gender inequality. In societies that tolerate violence, fail to punish perpetrators and blame victims, women are less likely to speak about it.

“To end this culture of silence and victim blaming, we need a stronger response from governments, police and justice,” urged Virginija Langbakk, director of the EIGE.

The institute is publishing data about violence against women after developing a way to measure the phenomenon as part of its Gender Equality Index.

Unlike the index, for which the higher the score, the closer the coun­try is to achieving equality, the new measure uses the opposite approach.

The higher the score, the worse the situation of violence against women, as it reflects how prevalent, severe and under-re­ported violence is.

The national scores range from 22 in Poland to 44 in Bulgaria.

Malta fared better than most European countries overall, with a score of 25, compared to a European average of 27.5.

This placed Malta in the company of the eight countries that scored the lowest, including Poland, Croatia, Portugal and Cyprus.

While the island scored below the average when it came to prevalence and lack of disclosure of violence, it scored high on severity. With the EU average standing at 47, Malta scored 52, placing the island with the five most severe. For this indicator, the report considered the percentage of women who have experienced health consequences of physical or sexual violence since the age of 15 or over the previous 12 months.

Meanwhile, almost one in two EU victims has not disclosed her most serious experience of sexual and physical violence to anyone.

In Malta, the percentage of women who had experienced physical and/or sexual violence in the previous 12 months and who did not tell anyone stood at eight per cent – the lowest in the EU.

The report also provides data on female victims of intentional homicide for the year 2014 for 13 Member States for which data is available.

Malta and Slovenia were the only two countries where the perpetrators were all intimate partners, while for other countries, the culprits were a mix of relatives and partners.

The 2017 report, meanwhile, makes reference to Article 23 of the Istanbul Convention, which recommends the State provide at least one women’s shelter per 10,000 inhabitants.

Only four EU Member States meet this Council of Europe minimum standard (Denmark, Latvia, Luxemburg and Slovenia), while Malta and the Netherlands come within five per cent of the minimum.

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