The Women’s Rights Foundation continued to apply pressure for a debate on abortion, saying that Malta continues to “bury its head in the sand” on the issue.

Avoiding the debate won’t make the matter disappear, the NGO warned.

“Malta has made great strides in terms of civil rights, and we feel that it is equally ready to discuss matters related to women’s reproductive rights,” WRF director Lara Dimitrijevic told the Times of Malta.

Reproductive rights have been ignored for too long to the detriment of women, she continued, explaining that the controversy surrounding the introduction of emergency contraception highlighted the importance of a debate on women’s health rights.

Malta is as ready to discuss reproductive rights as civil rights

The country is as ready to discuss reproductive rights as it was civil rights. But debates surrounding the topic have always been stifled, Dr Dimitrijevic insisted, alleging that the NGO has been refused private funds since advocating the introduction of emergency contraception last year.

“As NGOs, we depend on funding. Having funds withdrawn jeopardises the good work that the organisation does, especially for women and their dependent children facing domestic violence or those women who have fallen victim to the heinous crime of human trafficking,” she said.

She was speaking in reaction to comments made by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks, who made headlines last week when he called for a public debate on abortion.

The NGO echoed the sentiment of the  Commissioner, who hoped to set the ball rolling for a public debate on abortion.

Describing Malta as “one of the most restrictive regimes” in the area of reproductive rights, Mr Muižnieks lamented the taboo surrounding abortion.

“Every individual or organisation should have the possibility to speak up in support of women’s rights without fearing stigma or negative repercussions,” he said.

The organisation welcomed the call, insisting that some activists who have spoken out about abortion have been labelled “baby killers” in an attempt to cut off further debate.

Mr Muižnieks was speaking at the largest shelter for victims of domestic violence after a four-day visit.

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