Member of Parliament for Vaimauga East, Sulamanaia Fetaia’i Tuivasa, has questioned the “Nofotane project.”
“This is one project that our county does not support,” he said.
He made the comment in Parliament during its session this week.
The Nofotane project is run by the Samoa Victims Support Group with assistance from UN Women. It is designed to address the stigma associated with women who marry into families. It is also geared towards empowering them,
“This programme is trying to promote the nofotane when that is what they are, they are nofotane,” he said, adding that no stupid family in Samoa would treat the nofotane women any differently.
The Member of Parliament fears that the project will promote nofotane women to run the family when that is not their place, he said.
“Everything is in place, I am a faiava in my family,” he said. “Yet with this project it is painting a different picture of what a nofotane’s role in the families.”
The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, La’aulialemalietoa Polataivao Schmidt, countered the concerns.
“It appears that the Honorable Member does not understand the main purpose of the programme,” he said.
“This may belittle the importance of this programme yet it’s one vital project in all of Samoa.”
La’auli informed the M.P. his concerns are not aligned with the purpose of the nofotane programme.
“Data shows that 85% of domestic violence cases involve nofotane.
“A total of $200,000 USD has been approved from the United Nations specifically for the abused women.
“This programme is an important aspect in terms of assisting women who are being violated.”
Last week, the third phase of the project was launched and La’auli gave the keynote address where he highlighted the importance of women.
“O le nofotane, o le paolo tama’ita’i. O le faiava, o le paolo ali’i, he said.
“That is the honorable way in the Samoan culture given to these people. All of us that have gathered here today, we are all paolo. “O paolo e malu ai aiga. O paolo e maua ai gafa o aiga."
“Paolo are people to turn to for peace and safety and also to develop families, your children and your parents."
“That is why the government of Samoa gives their full support to this project because we want to emphasize this issue considering this is where the heart of unity for our country and families is found."
“The government also supports this because of the things that we have seen happening in other countries; where mothers and women do not have a voice."
“They have to fight in order to have that right in everything regarding families, churches including the decisions of the government."
“Now we have come to a point of life where we are emphasizing the importance of women all over the world and that is a main priority for our government now, to focus our attention to the significance of women in Samoa." We cannot undo what has already been done due to the many changes that we have come to face these days."
“Given the Samoa Victim Support Group has been a witness to the 85% of women or nofotane who have been victims of abuse, we must address this."
“A lot of these problems arise mostly because of arguments between a husband and a wife in their own family."
“It is not our duty to blame the male race when it comes to these situations because the point and the goal of this programme is to have a solution for this; to put an end to this matter."
“Nofotane has got a place in our Samoan structure and without a doubt, it’s one of the most respected person in the family but because of the 85% of what has been reported, we must address it so please give all the support that you can.”
La’aulialemalietoa acknowledged the President of S.V.S.G. and their organization as well as everyone else who took a part in implementing this project.