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Enabling gender violence?

Edwin Vassallo

Edwin Vassallo

It’s official. This country’s political system has not only lost the plot but also the entire script to sanity.

So prurient is our MPs' obsession with abortion – and anything related to sex or procreation, for that matter - that it has caused Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo to vote against a bill that tightens legislation against domestic and gender-based violence.

His beautiful reasoning? He doesn’t like the way the Bill uses the word 'gender', instead of traditional male and female terminology.

Oh yes and, weirdly, he is also worried that giving perpetrators of violence their just desserts may perhaps, potentially, eventually “open the back door to abortion”.

There isn’t actually a shred of logic or reason to support this belief of course. But, since when is reason more important than a dose of good, old-fashioned misogyny?

So basically what we have here? A Member of Parliament who would rather enable actual violence on actual people than maybe approve a law that uses words that go outside his comfort-zone? Way to go, Onorevoli. A real paladin of family values.

Thankfully, Vassallo's little tantrum will not affect this bill, since his was the only voice of dissent.

Thankfully, Mr Vassallo's little tantrum will not affect this bill, since his was the only voice of dissent.

This may lead some of us to make the mistake of treating him like an irrelevant joke. Don’t. This time round, Vassallo's tantrum turned out to be harmless. Next time, it may not be.

Why do we keep voting for people who have no respect for the principles of a modern society?

Why do we keep giving power to people who want to keep Malta in the dark ages, when society was run by the all-knowing pater familias (white, straight and male, of course)?

Why do we keep enabling people whose main political agenda is to further this heterosexual male power trip?

People like Mr Vassallo and their outdated beliefs have no place running a modern, civilised society. Yet, we continue shooting ourselves in the foot by voting for these 'safe' and familiar names.

Wednesday's vote was not just on Vassallo, it is also on those who have voted for him despite knowing that his beliefs are incompatible with a society based on equal civil rights.

And, more immediately, it is also on the Opposition Leader, who seems to have suddenly discovered the benefits of a free vote and supposedly gave Mr Vassallo his blessing to vote against the bill.

I’m all for a free vote on matters of conscience. But if your MP's conscience is telling him to vote against a bill protecting vulnerable members of society from violence.... Then maybe it is time to re-evaluate that MP's position in the party, right? Unless you want voters to think that his position aligns with yours.

Incidentally, Edwin Vassallo had also voted against the bill giving equal civil rights to gay couples, of course. Why? Because, abortion. Yeah, try figure that one out using logic. Good luck.

With some good fortune, Wednesday's bill will soon become law, effectively implementing the Istanbul Convention in Malta, which is all about making sure that gender-based and domestic violence are punished like the serious crimes that they are. This cannot happen a day too soon. We have already dragged out feet long enough.

And, hopefully, it will take more than a couple of political dinosaurs that we still allow to hang around to stop the betterment of our society.

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