The introduction of Femicide under Maltese Criminal Law
Femicide has been given significant prominence following the latest heinous crime involving the brutal murder of a young woman during the night. Following this case that shocked an entire nation, legislation is being changed to make femicide punishments harsher in a bid to eradicate it. To define it, femicide is the murder of a female because she is a woman.
Men who are found guilty of femicide will be given the maximum possible sentence, as part of a new bill. Crimes against women can include murder, domestic violence, outcomes following misogyny and certain abusive practices. Such an example can include abuse due to religious practices such as mutilation. This also brings the notion of sudden passion into perspective, as it will no longer serve as an argument. A murder or an attempt at it will no longer be justified as a crime of passion. The Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis, stated that the murder of a female because a man lost his temper is no longer acceptable.
The bill has been prepared and submitted in parliament. It was created in view of the public uproar following the rape and murder of Paulina Dembska. The objective of the bill is to introduce femicide within the criminal code and emphasise on the fact that women are more likely to be victimised through violence rather than men.
Sudden passion can be used as an argument in contexts where femicide does not take place, according to this new bill. This argument has been used in the past to secure a lesser number of years in prison for murder or attempted murder. When the Justice Minister was asked why the notion of sudden passion will not be eliminated as a valid argument for all cases, he replied that it is backed by case law and has been around for a long time.
Violence due to gender has long been a problem within society and to eradicate it will take time. In certain cases, violence against women is excessive and normalised in more extreme scenarios. This bill serves as a reminder that this is an existing problem that needs to be resolved.
It is important that the problems when it comes to gender-based violence are identified in early stages, to minimise the chances of them escalating into grave and irreversible cases.
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