I had a dream. It started badly. A woman was being beaten. A man was hovering over her, swinging his fists left, right and centre. She cried. She screamed.
Neighbours, disturbed yet again by the noise, called the police. In a matter of minutes, three vehicles of Rapid Intervention Unit parked the car in front of her house, tires screeching.
NINE policemen ran up the stairs, went into the bedroom, grabbed the perpetrator, roughly, probably using excessive force. They were zealous in doing their job. The image of a bloodied woman lying on the floor made them angry.
They couldn’t help it. They got the perpetrator out, locked him up for couple of days to prepare the charges against him, whilst the woman was given proper psychosocial assistance.
But then my dream turned into a nightmare. I realised that what was running through my head were images of the recent Moviment Graffitti protest and police’s reaction to it. The noise making activists were roughed up and kicked out of PA offices with zeal and determination that is rarely afforded to victims of domestic violence.
Guess that the cries and screams of a woman being battered do not merit rapid and stern intervention, unlike the beating of the drums. Guess the screaming of a battered woman next door is not the right kind of disturbance of peace, whilst shaking a rattle is.
Sadly, in my experience, way too often, that is the case.
Why? I could answer that by pointing how patriarchal and misogynistic our culture and society is, but then I’ll just be called, as usual, a femi-nazi, men hating bitch and all the other nice names people tend to assign to me and other women that dare speaks up.
In the meantime, facts are there, plain for everyone to see except for those who deliberately chose to close their eyes.
Another woman has been killed. Fourth victim of femicide in just a few months. Another woman whose dreams turned into nightmares of the worst kind. Another woman whose story of love turned into story of violent death. Another woman whose hopes and dreams were crushed by a man that was meant to love and care for her.
There is so much that we can do to prevent this kind of senseless violence and we simply don’t
This is where I get angry. There is so much that we can do to prevent this kind of senseless violence and we simply don’t. We are failing at all levels and whilst we did make some inroads into dealing with it – it simply isn’t enough.
We can have all the laws in the world, but if they are not enforced in a structured and consistent manner at all times, if we don’t develop and enforce the systems for those laws to filter down at all levels - they are a dead letter on a piece of paper and women will keep on dying.
We are not perfect. We are all fallible and I’m the first one to admit that, but we cannot use that as an excuse. We need to establish clear procedures, we need to know who is doing what and who is responsible if things don’t work the way they should.
Then and only then, I can look into the eyes of every politician, every police officer, member of the judiciary and/or any other service related to domestic violence and when they tell me that they did their best; that they tried; that they provided resources; followed procedures; followed the rules; and did so consistently, across the board, with the best interest of the victim as their main prerogative – I’ll be able to say that I believe them.
Because right now, I and many other women, do not.
Women in Malta need you, and the rest of the Maltese population, to show us that you mean to do better.
This Saturday, 10am, Valletta City Gate, we are marching in remembrance of women fallen victims of femicide in Malta over the last two decades.
Show up and Step up!
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