‘A Better Future’ For Victims of Sexual or Gender Based Violence

On April 15, the U.S. Embassy and Migrant Women Association Malta (MWAM) presented the results of MWAM’s ‘A Better Future’ project serving migrant survivors of sexual- and gender-based violence (SGBV).  The U.S. Department of State awarded $25,000 to MWAM for the project through the Julia Taft Refugee Fund.

MWAM’s 18-month project created and implemented a mental health framework to treat female refugees and migrants suffering from SGBV.  The concept involves a client-centered approach that incorporates an understanding of how the victim views the violence, and training interpreters and practitioners to work together.  The model takes into account three pillars:  personal history, cultural sanctions, and potential disability or mental health conditions.  MWAM published the framework in a handbook for mental health practitioners and other entities working in or related to the field.  The Council of Europe hailed MWAM’s approach as a ‘best practice.’

In his remarks, U.S. Charge d’Affaires Mark A Schapiro discussed the U.S. Embassy’s #BreakThe Glass initiative to identify and address obstacles that hinder women’s economic empowerment, career development, and representation, noting that combatting SGBV is crucial to any agenda to advance women’s economic and political interests.

MWAM President Umayma Elamin Amer stressed the importance of helping migrant women overcome traumatic experiences that they faced in their countries of origin or along the migration route.  She expressed appreciation for the U.S. Embassy’s support for MWAM’s project.

The guests included Minister of Home Affairs and National Security Michael Farrugia; Deputy Speaker and Opposition spokesperson for Equal Rights, Civil Liberties, and Citizens Rights Claudette Buttigieg; Refugee Commissioner Martine Cassar; Mental Health Commissioner John Cachia; and representatives from the health sector, social services, academia, international organizations, and NGOs.