Malta is being criticised by international Marie Claire magazine for allowing men “to abduct women without risk of punishment, if they then go on to marry their victim”.

The article, which went viral on social media, lists ‘The World’s 10 Worst Anti-Women Laws’. Journalist Francesca Rice says: “We can’t believe that this law exists, much less that it’s legal in a modern European country.”

The article in this month’s edition gives the impression that in Malta, men sling their abductee over their shoulders, throw them in a waiting getaway car and drive to the marriage registry to get married.

In actual fact the Criminal Code (Chapter 9 Title VII) states: “If the offender, after abducting a person, shall marry such person, he shall not be liable to prosecution, except on the complaint of the party whose consent, according to the civil laws, would be required for the marriage; and if the marriage takes place after the conviction, the penal consequences thereof shall cease and the party convicted shall, upon his application, be forthwith released by order of the court.”

Lawyer Claire Bonello said that the Marie Claire article was “completely off track”. “It suggests that immunity from prosecution or punishment is obtained automatically by subsequent marriage. It is not,” said Dr Bonello.

She explained that it in the case of a forced marriage scenario, the victim would still be able to obtain legal redress by means of a complaint for criminal prosecution, which annuls the marriage.

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