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12 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 23 JANUARY 2022 NEWS Should femicide be a distinct crime or aggravating offence? We are currently seeking for potential candidates to join our team in one of the following roles. Restaurant Manager Bartenders Waiters Host Cleaners Head Chef Sous Chef Chef de Partie Commis Chef Kitchen Helpers Kitchen Porters Maintenance Drivers Administrator Clerk Marketing Admin Outlets are based in Sliema and Marsascala Applicants require a minimum of 1 year experience in the respective position or similar. All candidates must be outgoing, team players and able to work flexible hours. Fluent English speaking is a must. . . Kindly send your CV to or by calling on +356 9929 4444 . C A R E E R OPPORTUNITIES . LAURA CALLEJA THE brutal rape and murder of Polish student Paulina Dembska has prompted calls for femicide to be listed as a distinct crime or an aggravating offence. The Women's Rights Foun- dation was at the forefront to make such a recommendation in a report on femicide in Malta that was released 48 hours after Dembska's murder. In a separate statement, the Malta Women's Lobby called for a change in the Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Act to bring the definition in line with the Istanbul Convention. The Istanbul Convention speaks of violence against wom- en but when it was transposed into Maltese legislation the law was made gender-neutral. Some women's rights activists want the law to reflect the con- vention and specifically mention women. The Women's Lobby said femi- cide should be recognised as an aggravating factor to homicide. Justice Minister Edward Zam- mit Lewis disagreed with these voices. He said homicide, irre- spective of gender, already car- ries the maximum punishment of life imprisonment. "Addressing femicide – de- fined as the killing of a girl or a woman because she is a girl or a woman - is not necessarily about legislative changes," Zammit Lewis said. Homicide vs femicide Lawyer Veronique Dalli says that laws for homicide already exist, which carry the strictest penalty - life imprisonment with or without solitary confinement. She says different types of mur- ders fall under the same umbrel- la of homicide. Just as there is femicide, other descriptions in- clude parricide – the act of kill- ing one's father or mother – and infanticide – the act of killing children. Dalli argues that from a legal standpoint all murders, irre- spective of their label, carry the highest form of punishment and so it makes little sense to have distinct crimes. But she says that making femi- cide an ad hoc criminal offence to acknowledge the wilful mur- der of a woman because she is a woman goes beyond the legal realm. "This is a different argument altogether. We cannot have an aggravated circumstance in the case of femicide with a harsher punishment because the law al- ready contemplates this, howev- er this does not mean it cannot be acknowledged in legal defini- tions to make it clear what and who the law refers to," Dalli says. She notes this is more an an- thropomorphic argument rath- er than a legal one. "Should we make up for centuries of defi- ciency in protecting women? I would say definitely yes, as it is our duty to protect women against any form of violence." Women's rights activist and lawyer Lara Dimitrijevic believes femicide deserves to be recog- nised as an offence within its own merits. She says that although the punishment for homicide is life imprisonment, femicide is the result of misogynistic and harm- ful behaviours experienced by women because of their gender and sex. "The message needs to be clear that such harmful attitudes are wrong and ought not to be tol- erated. Our law also provides for excuses that may be raised to justify the killing, such as what is known as a crime of passion," Dimitrijevic says. Lawyer Desiree Attard believes Malta has to face the truth that femicide is a reality that hap- pens on the island's streets and homes. "We have to reckon with the way we treat women in Malta and the ingrained and at times institutionalised misogyny and address it. We have come far, but clearly, not far enough," At- tard says. She understands the calls to classify femicide separately from homicide because the root caus- es are not the same. "However, I question its practical applica- tion, given the very limited re- sources and training of our pros- ecutors as well as our courts." "Personally, I'd much rather see a concerted effort by the au- thorities to actually enforce the laws we already have in place by giving both the police force and our courts the resources and training they need," Attard adds. MaltaToday speaks to lawyers Veronique Dalli, Lara Dimitrijevic and Desiree Attard on whether femicide should be listed as a distinct crime in the wake of the brutal rape and murder of Polish student Paulina Dembska "Our law also provides for excuses that may be raised to justify the killing, such as what is known as a crime of passion" Lara Dimitrijevic Different views: Women's Rights Foundation campaigner and lawyer Dr Lara Dimitrijevic, lawyers Dr Desiree Attard and Dr Veronique Dalli

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