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Time to act against rape: Use the Istanbul Convention!- Malta seminar

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Time to act against rape: Use the Istanbul Convention!- Malta seminarThe Malta Confederation of Women’s Organisations (MCWO) is organising a seminar which will take place on Tuesday morning, the 26th of November 2013 at Europa House in St Paul’s Street Valletta.

The speakers invited for this seminar are:

Helena Dalli Minister Minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties,

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity,

Dr Marceline Naudi MCWO Representative on the EWL Observatory on Violence against Women,

Dr Therese Commodini Cachia,

Dr Deborah Schembri EU parliamentary network VAW,

Dr Roberta Lepre Commission Domestic Violence & Victim Support Malta,

Marisa Russo Domestic Violence Unit, Appogg,

FSWS, Dr Lara Dimitrijevic Women’s Rights Foundation,

James Buhagiar Men against Violence,

Inspector Sylvana Briffa Malta Police

and will by chaired by Lorraine Spiteri, MCWO Chairperson.

This event is part of a broader series of public events under the common slogan “Act against rape! Use the Istanbul Convention!” that are taking place during the sixteen days of activism against violence against women between 25 November and 10 December in 33 countries all over Europe.

Why the focus on rape?

Rape continues to be one of the most devastating forms of gender-based violence, yet it is too often a taboo subject and thus remains shrouded in silence. Research at European level indicates that only between 2% and 10% of rapes are reported. A great majority of sex crimes against women are undisclosed and sexual violence remains underestimated.

The “Act against rape! Use the Istanbul Convention!” events aim to place sexual violence and rape higher on the political agenda by initiating public debate around existing in adequate criminal legislation and services and the existence of myths and stereotypes that keeps preventing women to report and get justice.

EWL Barometer on Rape in Europe in 2013

In 2013, the European Women’s Lobby launched a barometer informing on how national legislations complies or fails to comply with human rights standards and what official data is kept on women victims of rape in every country. Covering 32 countries, the Barometer provides a snapshot of the situation across Europe and highlights areas where change is urgently needed.

Istanbul Convention, a tool for change

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (also known as the Istanbul Convention) is a concrete tool for change to eradicate all forms of male violence against women, specifically rape.

The Convention is based on the understanding that violence against women is a form of gender- based violence that is committed against women because they are women. The Convention leaves no doubt: there can be no real equality between women and men if women experience gender-based violence on a large-scale and state agencies and institutions turn a blind eye.

“The Istanbul Convention complements existing legal norms, and expands the international framework on gender equality and the empowerment of women. It represents a “gold standard” and indeed, if I may say, is primus inter pares among instruments specifically targeting the elimination of violence against women.” Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, UN Women

Regarding sexual violence and rape, the Istanbul Convention obliges the States to dapt criminal of crime and legislation and include a definition of rape based on the lack of consent as an element of crime and move away from the requirement of use of physical force.

An adequate implementation of the Istanbul Convention will serve to make a vast change towards more effective gender equality. However not all countries have signed the Convention, and from those who have signed only a few have ratified. Malta signed the Convention on the 21 May 2012, but has not yet ratified.

Thanks to the financial support of the Government of Finland to the Council of Europe, the EWL and the Council of Europe are joining forces in this project to promote the Istanbul Convention as a tool for change. Overall, the project will promote the signature, ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention all over Europe, tailoring messages to the context in the respective country.

“I ask all of you to go out to your governments, to go out to your national parliaments, to go out to your media and protest in your member states why our [European Union] member states have not ratified the first international legally-binding instrument to prevent and combat violence against women. What are they afraid of? Do our legal systems in the European Union work or do they not work?” (Vice-President of the European Commission Viviane Reding, Speech in the European Parliament, 4 Feb 2013)

Facts and figures on rape

· Malta ranks lowest amongst EU countries for reporting rape

According to the Malta National Statistics Office, there were 11 cases of reported rape in 2010 with 43 violent indecent assaults (Demographic Review 2010) while there were 17 persons who called at hospitals or clinics seeking treatment after having been raped according to information given by the Health Minister in 2010.

· Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria, according to World Bank data.(UN Secretary-General, 2008: Campaign to end violence against women).

· In the Czech Republic, one to two rapes per day are officially recorded – it is assumed that rape is reported in only 8% of the cases (and rape occurring in the context of family and partnership is reported only in 3% of cases).

· In Denmark, the Crime Prevention Council in Denmark makes statistics based on data from the rape centres and the police. They estimate that: 2000 rapes are committed in Denmark every year; 500 cases are reported to the police; in 300 cases the charges are brought and in 150 cases there is a conviction.

· In France, official surveys show 198,000 women between 18-59 years old are victims of actual rape or attempted rape (2005-2006 CVS by INSEE-OND). In this country, 205 women are RAPED every day, only 2% of perpetrators are condemned, only 1 victim out of 10 will report to the police, 74% of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows (

· In the Netherlands, a recent study (2012) revealed 15% of the women aged between 25-70 and 8% of the women aged between 15-24 were raped at least once in their lives.

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men.

EWL membership extends to organisations in all 27 EU member states and three candidate countries, as well as to 20 European-wide organisations, representing a total of more than 2,500 associations.

The Malta Confederation of Women’s Organisations (MCWO) represents the concerns, needs and interests of women from all walks of life through dialogue and networking at a national, European and international level.

The purpose of the Confederation is to integrate and unify all national women’s NGOs and individual members in order to represent alta at WL) MCWO the European Women’s Lobby (E L) in Brussels, of which it is a full member.

The MCWO s through its member organisations represents over 24,000 Maltese women and is a full member of the European Women’s Lobby.

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    2 Responses

    1. Dr. Marc LEEMING says:

      I am a South African trained medical doctor and have worked as a doctor in the UK for the last 7 years. I worked as a Sexual Offence Examiner working with male and female adult and child victims of sexual offences as well as suspects in police custody. I also worked as a Forensic Medical Examiner and as a Coroner.
      I am in the fortunate position of having retired to beautiful Gozo. I would be delighted to become involved in a group of professionals dedicated to establishing a Sexual Assault Referral Centre in Gozo/Malta.
      I am Not Seaking an employment opportunity. I would like to pass on the expertise that I have acquired in forensic sampling and the psychology of the treatment of sexual offence victims. Having worked with 8 British police forces in their respective sexual offence units I have a balanced range of examination experience. I have lectured to and helped to train designated sexual offence trained police officers and nurses in these areas.
      If I could be of some use in my adopted home I would be interested to talk to the police and fellow healthcare professionals and victim support groups. Being new to Malta I do not know where to begin. Any suggestions or contacts would be appreciated.

      Kind Regards

      Marc LEEMING MBChB, BSocSci (Psych&Soc).

    2. Lorraine Spiteri says:

      Thanks Dr Leeming for your very interesting and kind comment. The MCWO
      will be in touch to see how your expertise can be utilised.

      Thanks again


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