On Thursday, November 26, 2020 a group of YRE (Young reporters for the environment) students from St. Margaret College Secondary School, Verdala, Cospicua, participated in a school project aiming to create more awareness about domestic violence in Malta and discuss possible solutions in this regard. This was a follow up school project on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women which is commemorated on November 25th. Since 1989, the month of October has also been selected as the National Domestic Awareness Month inviting people to reflect upon the reality and effect of domestic violence while offering a voice for the victims.
Domestic violence is a worldwide reality which affects all people regardless of age, status, sexual orientation, religion, race, gender or nationality. Domestic violence is very often experienced through physical abuse, emotional abuse and also controlling behavior through a systematic pattern of control and dominance. The effects of domestic violence can be very traumatic and creating awareness (especially in schools) about this topic is highly necessary and important.
Referring to the link: https://www.un.org/en/observances/ending-violence-against-women-day, the world experienced an increase in reported cases of all types of violence, particularly domestic violence, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus the United Nations insists on an urgent need to address this issue seriously and create a global collective effort to stop it. This year’s theme for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect” and it consists of an intensive programme of 16 days campaign and discussions to address domestic violence worldwide.
In this regard, St. Margaret College YRE students accepted the invitation of teacher Martin Azzopardi sdc to engage themselves in a write-up for publication creating more awareness about the reality and effect of domestic violence in Malta.
According to the Malta Independent newspaper (dated 2nd April 2019), the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security of Malta announced that in the year 2018, 1,341 cases of domestic violence were reported to the authorities in Malta. From 2010 to the end of 2018, 9,682 cases of domestic violence were reported where the majority of the victims were women and 23% men. However, not all reports ended up being taken to court. In the majority of these cases, domestic violence started as being slight bodily harm with physical force. Between 2015 and the end of 2018 there were 2,256 cases of domestic violence reported to the courts of Malta; out of these, 127 persons were found guilty and fined, 104 were time-barred and 10 persons jailed.
In this school project, St. Margaret College YRE students were invited to watch a short YouTube film called ‘What I see’ (see video:)
and hold a discussion in class. Then students came out with some practical solutions to address this issue of domestic violence. Student Hilaria Scerri insists on the need of an educational campaign about respect and tolerance in schools while students Nicole Zammit and Courtney Muscat are more in favour of immediate action and reporting to authorities to stop domestic violence. On the other hand, student Sherona Azzopardi highlights the importance of more awareness about domestic violence in schools and more financial support to institutions which offer shelter and protection to victims. Student Kelsey Bartolo suggests the importance of more marriage counselors and easy access to their offered service within the community.
This project aims to reach four of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Life on Land, Good Health and Well-being; Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and Quality Education.