Close to hundred villagers from Vavau, a small village in the district of Lotofaga, Aleipata, participated recently in a half-day workshop discussing what may be causing violence against women and girls in Samoa and what may be done to help prevent it.
The keynote address for the workshop was presented by Christian DesRoches, the Acting High Commissioner of Canada to Samoa based at the Canadian High Commission in New Zealand.
In his remarks, Mr DesRoches stated how years ago, Canadians did not speak about domestic violence, prefering to pretend the problem did not exist.
“We started confronting the problem because we came to realize that dealing with this issue is one of the ways that will allow our women and girls to reach their full potential.”
He pointed out that in the newly formed government of Canada, half of the cabinet ministers are women – 14 out of 28.
“The lesson we learned is that by liberating women from domestic violence and by giving them more opportunities, they make our societies better. What we do in Canada works for us but in Samoa you have to find your own solutions which is why we are very happy to work with our local partners in Samoa, the Tiapapata Art Centre and our friends with the Ministry of Police and National Health Services who are here today. They come to communities like this to raise awareness of the issues and help begin to find solutions.”
In preparing for the workshop, the women of Vavau learned dances and songs that make reference to the problem of domestic violence.
“The performing arts are a powerful medium to convey the message of ending violence because people can experience so much more through dance and song than through what can be monotonous rhetoric,” stated event organizer Galumalemana Steven Percival of the Tiapapata Art Centre.
“We are grateful to the government appointed village representatives for their support of this initiative.”
The warm reception and fully engaged response by the community, and especially the wonderful singing and dancing articulating the theme of the day, are encouraging highlights of the event.
The challenge now will be for the villagers of Vavau to translate into action some of their ideas and recommendations that may lead to a reduction in violence.