Victims of violence often have to face fresh trauma at the places that should be helping them out: court and police stations.

Survivors’ re-victimisation through the justice system is one of the barriers highlighted in new research about gender-based violence on women.

The participants have also expressed concern that some police officers do not deal with domestic violence as ex-officio cases, as required by law.

Carried out by Marceline Naudi, Marilyn Clark and Holger Saliba from the University of Malta's Faculty for Social Wellbeing, the research forms part of an EU-cofunded project called Full Cooperation Zero Violence.

The project is being managed by the Human Rights and Integration Directorate within the Equality Ministry. 

READ: No place at home for domestic violence attackers

Present for the launch of results of the qualitative research with survivors and professionals, Minister Helena Dalli noted that the gender-based violence law was at the second reading stage in parliament.

However, the law on its own was not enough, and enforcement was imperative. Protecting survivors had to be coupled with a change in culture that violence is never acceptable, Dr Dalli insisted.

She added that the project included the training of some 700 professionals who come face-to-face with survivors – including police officers, nurses, social workers, midwives, teachers and probation officers.

Other barriers victims face:

  • Shame due to social expectations that ‘good’ women should remain with their partners as their primary role is to care for the family and keep it together

  • Unaffordable rent conditions, with some getting stuck in shelters forever

  • Keeping a job is sometimes challenging when court sittings keep getting deferred

  • Perpetrators’ charm tends to deceive not just mutual friends, but also professionals

  • The court asking the survivor whether she wants to forgive the perpetrator puts her in an awkward and possibly dangerous position

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