Equality and fairness in society is a goal declared by the vast majority of countries on a worldwide basis. Specific international conventions have been signed and ratified by the majority of states to endorse this objective. One of these international instruments is the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Malta ratified the CEDAW way back in 1991 and in so doing committed itself to implement its provisions to bring about full equality between women and men in Maltese society.
Violence against women is one of the various areas of concern addressed by this convention. This fundamental violation of women’s rights remains widespread, affecting all countries. The United Nations defines violence against women as a structural phenomenon caused by the historical imbalance of power between women and men in society. Moreover, the 1995 UN Beijing Platform for Action states “violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace. Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. The long-standing failure to protect and promote those rights and freedoms in the case of violence against women is a matter of concern to all states and should be addressed”. Women need strong laws, backed by implementation and services for protection and prevention.
Research commissioned by the Commission on Domestic Violence (CDV) found that in Malta one in four women reported having experienced violence at least once during their lifetime. Half of these reported that this was still going on during the year the survey was undertaken.