Bluesky supports National Inquiry into Family Violence

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BLUESKY COUNTRY MANAGER: Alex Abraham.

BLUESKY COUNTRY MANAGER: Alex Abraham. (Photo: Chikara Yoshida)

‘‘We want everyone to access this number free of charge and we’ve activated the number for all to call. We are also calling on other service providers to zero rate this number for their networks. That way everyone in Samoa with a phone can call 800 6438 for free” - Country Manager Alex Abraham 

 

It’s no secret that Samoa is challenged with issues of family violence. 

Many stories have made front page news including last Thursday’s Samoa Observer front page headlining, ‘Man stabs wife in public’. 

 Things on this front need to improve drastically and Bluesky has come on board to support the office of the ombudsman’s national inquiry into family violence by providing a toll free number 800 6438 for all its customers to call to take part in this inquiry. 

“We want everyone to access this number free of charge and we’ve activated the number for all to call. We are also calling on other service providers to zero rate this number for their networks. That way everyone in Samoa with a phone can call 800 6438 for free,” said Bluesky Country Manager Alex Abraham.  

Bluesky is encouraging all members of the public to participate and support the office of the ombudsman with this important work for the community through their national inquiry. 

The Office of the Ombudsman has been established independently by law to promote and protect human rights in Samoa. Established in December 2013 under the Ombudsman Act 2013 (“the Ombudsman Act”) the Ombudsman Office was awarded ‘A’ status by the international accrediting body, the Global Alliance for NHRIs. This accreditation at the highest level reflects international recognition of the independence of the Office and its record in effectively protecting and promoting human rights since its establishment in 2013.

The Ombudsman Act gives the Ombudsman wide-ranging duties and powers to promote and protect human rights in Samoa. One of its human rights functions is to inquire into widespread, systemic or entrenched situations or practices that violate human rights. This can take the form of a ‘National Inquiry’ – one of its most powerful tools. 

A national inquiry enables a broad human rights approach and examination of a large and complex situation. It has both fact finding and educational roles and has been used to great success globally. The process has the potential to address and resolve wide-spread human rights issues, such as family violence, in a manner no other approach could achieve.

Despite these initiatives and many efforts over the past years to address the issue of domestic violence against women and girls, violence still remains prevalent in Samoa and is increasing with serious cases resulting in the death of women. 

Data from the Domestic Violence Unit of the Ministry of Police shows the increase of “reported” domestic violence cases of female victims between the ages of 17-33 between the years of 2007-2015. These numbers were cases reported only to Police headquarters in Apia and do not include cases reported to police outposts. This indicates that violence against women is endemic and widespread in Samoa.

There is concern and international pressure to address domestic violence especially with regards to women, girls and children. This was evident in Samoa’s second U.P.R. review earlier this year when the U.N. Human Rights Council recommended to Samoa to continue to take active steps to implement measures aimed at combating and preventing domestic violence. At the same time there is strong concern from the public on the severity and increase of domestic violence.

Some of the matters that the national inquiry will focus its investigation on include but not limited to:  Identify who are the victims of family violence; Who are the most vulnerable to violence within a family context;  The nature of violence experienced by the victims; The severity and level of impact of family violence; The root causes and contributing factors to the occurrence of family violence; Who are the first responses to family violence complaints and how effective are their responses (examining their roles and responses to complaints);  Measures and initiatives established to combat the issue and how successful or effective have they been implemented;  What services are available to victims after the violence; What legal methods are in place and how effective are they in protecting victims of family violence. 

Posters and communications have already commenced distribution into the community and there are many ways to participate such as: a public hearing; OR a Private/closed hearing; OR in writing; OR email; OR by calling the toll free number 800 6438.

Bluesky is calling on the community to spread the word and let loved ones know that they can call 800 6438 free of charge from any Bluesky phone to share their stories. 

© Samoa Observer 2016

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