There’s been an increase of violence against women from 46% in 2000 to 60% in 2017 in the age group of 20-49 years old.
These are the findings of the study of the 2nd Samoa Family Safety Study 2017 that was launched last weekat To’oa Hall by the Ministry of Women and Social Development.
Domestic and gender-based violence in Samoa are multi-faceted problems with devastating impacts on the most vulnerable members of the family. These victims are women, children, persons with disabilities and the elderly.
The need for relevant strategies to combat domestic violence is crucial to family and community safety. It was for this reason that the Ministry of Women and Social Development supported by the Australian Government, commissioned the 2017 Samoa Family Safety study.
The focus of the study was to assess the current situation of domestic and gender-based violence in Samoa including the extent to which existing legislation, programmes and services have impacted the problem.
Some of the key findings confirmed that for abused women - 78% experienced emotional abuse making it the most common type of abuse with 22% experiencing both physical and emotional abuse, and 5% sexual abuse and others which possibly constitutes sexual and emotional abuse 1%.
The high rates of violence were experienced by both boys and girls and a lifetime rate experience of violence was 89% for girls and 90% for boys and the prevalence rate for the last 12 months was 69% for girls and 63% for boys.
It also shows that emotional abuse is the most common type of abuse amongst women, children and elderly people.
The rates are 78% for women, 43.5% for children and 93% for elderly women and men. The combination of physical assault and emotional abuse is the second highest, and physical abuse is the least common type of abuse experienced by all three groups.
This indicates that while the rates of violence are still high cases of physical assault might have begun to drop.
The characteristics of abused women clearly stated that the highest level of education reached by the majority of abused women was secondary school, and women in violent relationships are predominantly those who are married; completed secondary school level, lived in households of between 6 and 10 members, with an average household income of between $100 and $500 per week.
Violence also affects women in other types of relationships (separated, de facto etc) who are in households with weekly earning $100-$500.
Physical violence affects more married women aged between 20 and 37 years old, and the majority of female victims (aged 35-49) suffer from a combination of both physical and emotional abuse.
According to the report the four factors rank highest as contributors to violence.
They disagreements over the treatment of children (26%); a husband not happy with wife’s behaviour towards his family, (e.g. looking down on them) (18%); a respondent disobeying her partner (14%) and a partner not being satisfied with the wife’s performance within the family (12%).
From these factors, only a small proportion of the respondents reported the abuse they had experienced to someone else compared to 89% who did not.
This is a worrying situation because it indicates that many more violent incidents remain hidden and unreported, the study said.
Strengthening the family unit by embracing Christian and Samoa cultural values is one of the study’s recommendations.
Central to this is a more proactive role by village councils and village church pastors in educating communities about domestic violence as an un acceptable, criminal act destroying families.
This also includes the strengthening role of the church in promoting family safety as one of the key influential institutions in the villages. The church is called upon to be more visibly involved in the fight against domestic violence by leading family safety programmes and encouraging participation of all families in these.
Other recommendations include introducing a Family Safety curriculum to primary and secondary schools, public awareness and counselling programmes, and granting the village councils legal support to intervene appropriately in family violence incidents in the villages.
The 2017 Samoa Family First Safety Study;
Sample size was 1,100 people;
878 adult females and males (70% females/30males).
100 school children (70 females and 30 males),
22 people living with disability,
100 elderly (70% females and 30% males)