Rejection of pregnant women heartless and condescending

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

It’s a hard one to accept – let alone comprehend. 

It’s difficult really to figure out what drives the decision making by some leaders of American Samoa. One day they are screaming from the top of the hill that we are one, the next they’re downright unkind.

Look at the front page story titled “Shocking breach of human rights” on the front page of the Samoa Observer last Thursday.

The idea that pregnant women from Samoa with valid entry permits into American Samoa had been rejected at the American Samoa border and sent back to Upolu is not only disturbing, it smacks of arrogance, rudeness and the type of condescending attitude of the colonial era.

Keep in mind we’re not talking about New Zealand, Australia, Fiji or any other foreign country. We are talking about American Samoa. Yes that’s right, our very own brothers and sisters across the waters.

Let’s think about this carefully. Samoa and American Samoa share the same race, language, culture and customs, religious inclination and many other traits. We enjoy similar things; have a funny sense of humour and we love the same kind of food. 

Historically speaking both countries are victims of war. Whereas Samoa was administered by Britain and later New Zealand, American Samoa was governed by the United States of America so that today they still proudly carry the name “American Samoa.” Maybe it is those quirks in history that has allowed them to behave very strangely. Who knows? 

Whatever it is, it is clear certain American Samoa leaders harbour ill feelings towards Samoans from this side, especially pregnant women. 

For the uninitiated, the treatment of pregnant women surfaced during the recent inter-Samoa talks held in Apia where the Samoan government raised concerns about the treatment of Samoan women by American Samoa.

 “Samoa raised the concern relating to pregnant women from Samoa not being able to disembark the vessel upon arrival but simply asked to take the return trip of the ship even with the issuance of a valid entry permit,” the official documents of the meeting obtained by the Samoa Observer said. “American Samoa noted that this may be related to an immigration issue to prevent foreign women from exploiting medical care in American Samoa.” 

Are you serious? What if a woman needed to give birth on the ferry? Would they insist on putting their silly medical care above a human life? 

Maybe they should have an official at the Matautu wharf to check all the women boarding to see if they are pregnant. How about that for progression in the 21st century? Yes and this is Samoans doing it to other Samoans? 

Which is perhaps the most disappointing aspect to all this.

We accept that American Samoa makes their rules based on what the United States allow them to do. Fine.

But the idea of rejecting pregnant women and sending them back to Samoa is not only odiously heartless, it has got to be one of the worst things one Samoan could do to another. 

Let’s be reminded once more that Samoa and American Samoa are the same people. We are one. 

Just about everyone have families and links on both sides of the equation which means we have got to be kind to one another. 

This is something perhaps someone should remind those officials in American Samoa who came up with this stupid decision to send pregnant women back to Samoa – even with valid permits.

Maybe they should test every woman who applies for a permit to see if they are pregnant first and foremost before they even grant them? What a joke!

Tell us what you think.

Have a wonderful Tuesday Samoa, God bless!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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