Audio: ‘She refused to be a prostitute, he broke her baby’s legs’ – Dr Vella

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Dr Anna Vella recalled an experience where a man slammed a new-born baby, breaking both her legs, simply because the mother refused to go back to working in prostitution.

Dr Vella is a volunteer at Dar Hosea, an organisation set to help women in prostitution. During her interview with Fr Joe Borg during the programme Newsbook Hour on the radio station 103 Malta’s Heart, Vella talked about several encounters different women experienced. Recently, Government published a document on Reform on Human Trafficking and Prostitution that is proposing the decriminalisation of prostitution.

According to the document, this will protect the prostitutes from sexually transmitted diseases, physical and sexual violence, and stigma.

Read: Government proposing decriminalisation of prostitution in public consultation document

Rape, abuse, and fear

The volunteer explained that although there are several reasons why, most prostitutes are not part of the industry by choice. She explained that there are times where women are victims of substance abuse, and prostitution would be the only way to finance the addiction.

Moreover, Vella added that through her experience, about 85% of women that visit Dar Hosea have already been sexually abused or are continuously raped in their lifetime. She insisted that in most cases, rape is the first step into becoming a prostitute. She added that unfortunately, most times this process is initiated by relatives, specifically parents or grandparents.

Vella also mentioned the factor of physical violence, which is used to create fear so that the victim would not react or retaliate. She knows of cases where women ended up in hospital with broken teeth and bones.

Dr Vella recalled an experience where a man slammed a new-born baby, breaking both her legs, simply because the mother refused to go back to working in prostitution. The man was later charged and arrested.

Read: “I cried through everything but I did it”

Decriminalisation of prostitution

“I agree with this change, because currently, they are being forced to be prostitutes; and someone who is compelled to do something should not be arrested,” said Vella. She welcomed Government’s proposal as it helps those people who are trying to detach themselves from that part of their life without needing to suffer harsh penalties as well as allowing ex-prostitutes to find new jobs without too much difficulty.

However, she mentioned that she does not agree that people who abuse these women can do so freely without any repercussions. She recollected an incident in New Zealand, where prostitutes were offered as an addition to a fast food special meal deal.

Dar Hosea

Dar Hosea is open every day from Monday to Friday. Prostitutes are encouraged to go rest, eat, shower, and talk with councillors without any fear of being judged or forced, everything free of charge. Additionally, doctor appointments, dentistry services and lawyer services are also available free of charge through professionals who volunteer their time to help others.

Anyone who is in need of Dar Hosea’s guidance or aid can call on 99508954 or message on its Facebook page.