Abortion has been a taboo subject for many in Malta and the country’s strict abortion laws force thousands of women to reportedly leave Malta each year to get an abortion. This is because today Malta is the only country in European Union which has a complete ban on abortion.
However, a new play written by journalist Herman Grech has now made this taboo subject a centre of conversation among the people of Malta. The play titled “De-terminated: The Abortion Diaries” has paved a way for the debate on strict abortion laws in the country.
The writer has based the play’s script on real-life experiences of seven people and was performed in Valletta on October 19. The subject of the play has sparked a controversy in the small island country where many still oppose the idea of abortion.
“Abortion is not only a taboo here, there’s almost a fear of using the ‘A’ word. When you know hundreds of women are resorting to dangerous methods to get a termination then it becomes a subject that needs to be tackled,” Grech was quoted as saying by BBC.
While speaking to ABC News, Grech said: “What I wanted to address, mainly, is the Maltese culture of intolerance where it comes to abortion, where both opposing camps shout at the other side in a tribal manner. By its very nature, abortion is a divisive subject, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t equip yourself with facts to make your arguments.”
The abortion laws in Malta have been debated and also challenged by various people across the world inviting immense criticism for the country over the years. Nils Muižnieks, former EU commissioner, who has been vocal about the abortion policy in Malta, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in December 2017 demanding a reformation of the law.
Calling it a breach of fundamental human rights, Lara Dimitrijevic – founder and director of the Women’s Rights Foundation (WRF) – has also demanded decriminalization of abortion in the country.
Meanwhile, the play by Herman Grech has had a personal impact on people as it captures the real-life struggles of Maltese women. Grech’s play has started a new conversation in the country around the topic of abortion and might help in achieving the bigger target of decriminalizing abortion in Malta in the future.