Four women killed in four months

Four women aged between 30 and 74 were brutally killed in as many months in cases of domestic violence in Malta.

The latest alleged murder of a women by her partner in Paola is the fourth this year. In August, Dutch national Shannon Mak had her throat slashed in the street by her ex-boyfriend in Santa Venera.

A month earlier, Maria Carmela Fenech and Antonia Micallef were both stabbed to death at home by Maria’s son in Gharghur.

Since 2009, 16 women have been murdered in cases of domestic violence.

The latest murder of 35-year-old Marie Louise Agius who was choked to death by her former partner – who then turned himself into the police – led to a huge public outcry especially when news emerged that she had filed several reports against him.

The family of the mother of six – of which three were with her former partner – turned to an NGO and the public to help with the funeral costs to help give her the burial she deserves.

The public outcry at the news of her death was also for all the other women who were killed by the men in their lives. In a post on Facebook, columnist Josianne Cassar put together a list of women who were killed in Malta by their former partner or husband.

In the comments, people started adding more and more names of femicides – all in Malta and all of women who must not be forgotten.

These numbers almost all have a story behind them of women who tried to escape out of a situation where they were unhappy, beaten or suffering but were killed by the men they were trying to get away from.

Some of these women actually went to report the behaviour of their ex-partners/abusers to the authorities but, it is clear, that if anything was done, nothing changed.

The anger has led to NGO Women’s Rights Foundation organising a protest walk on September 22 in Valletta called a March Against Femicide with hundreds already planning to attend.

Femicide – defined by the World Health Organisation as the “intentional murder of women because they are women” – is not a local phenomenon but one that is widespread around the world.

A report by Italian research institute Eures found that 114 women were murdered in Italy in the first 10 months of 2017 – more than one murder every three days. The percentage of women among Italy’s total murder victims has never been higher – 37 per cent compared to 26 per cent in 2000.

In 2016, 150 women were murdered over the whole of 2016, up from 142 in 2015. The worst year of the past decade, though, was 2013 – when a total of 179 women were murdered.

More than three-quarters of women murdered were killed by a partner or family member, Eures said. According to the institute, possessiveness, jealousy, isolation and social hardship are some of the main contributing factors.

A 2017 report by the Centre for Disease Control analysed the murders of women in 18 states from 2003 to 2014, finding a total of 10,018 deaths. Of those, 55 percent were killed by a former or current partner or the partner’s family or friends. In 93 percent of those cases, the culprit was a current or former romantic partner.

About a third of the time, the couple had argued right before the murder, and about 12 percent of the deaths were associated with jealousy. The majority of the victims were under the age of 40, and 15 percent were pregnant. About 54 percent were gun deaths.

In the UK, the Femicide Census report for 2016 found that a total of 113 women were killed by men in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – of these 78% by their current or former intimate partner, with three quarters (77 %) of those killed by their ex-partner or ex-spouse within the first year after the separation. Three quarters (75 %) of all femicides took place in the woman’s own home.

Earlier this year, the European Observatory on Femicide was launched to “raise awareness of gender-related killings of women or femicide through collation of data” and aims to bring together data from different countries and, eventually utilise it on a policy level in Europe.


Around the world:

  • In Guatemala, two women are murdered, on average, each day.
  • In India, 8,093 cases of dowry-related death were reported in 2007; an unknown number of murders of women and young girls were falsely labeled ‘suicides’ or ‘accidents’.
  • In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners.
  • In the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, 66 percent of murders of women were committed by husbands, boyfriends or other family members.

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