Lessons for life
In the horrific news article on the front page of today’s edition, a search for some kind of redeeming feature of the attacker, Uso Auvale Taumata Bragovits was difficult to find.
Eventually, there it was.
In court, he had pleaded guilty to the charge of attempted murder and breaching a protection order.
However given that two young people were witnesses to the vicious attack, one of whom, the woman’s son had pleaded to no avail for the attack to stop, how could he not?
It is hard to imagine any kind of conviction in the voice of his counsel who put forward that the victim was “partly to blame for the attack, because she gave the defendant false hopes when she agreed to marry him”.
Justice Mata Tuatagaloa dealt with that ridiculous suggestion with the derision it deserved.
In a strongly-worded statement aimed at the court room and beyond, Justice Tuatagaloa made it clear that there is zero tolerance for the use of fear and violence in Samoa.
“As far as the court is concerned, any man who causes any woman to fear for her life, does not belong in our society,” said Justice Tuatagaloa.
She also addressed the seriousness of those who choose to flout protection orders with a reminder that they are issued with the full force of the law behind them.
“You approached the victim that morning and by attacking her, you violated that law,” said Justice Tuatagaloa.
She also pointed out the attacker’s single-minded determination, even in the face of pleas from the woman’s son, who witnessed the frenzied attack.
“You showed no regard for the law when you breached it and you even continued to strike the victim when her son begged you not to kill his mother.”
The circumstances that led to this tragedy last year show that there are some members of our society who still do not accept that men and women have equal rights.
This includes the right to refuse, to live freely, and the right to change your mind without fear of physical or mental punishment or retribution.
There is also the question of coping - dealing with disappointments, accepting what can and cannot be and moving on in life.
The idea of a violent solution as in “if I can’t have her, no one can” has sadly appeared to be a factor in other court cases in the past.
And while it is heartening that strong statements are being issued by our judges as a deterrent, it is obvious that behaviour modifications and changes and the learning of coping mechanisms, need to start much, much earlier.
With Fathers’ Day so recently celebrated, it’s perhaps an ideal time to start or continue those family conversations with children of all ages in the home.
They should also be held in schools, at youth groups and Bible classes, as church sermons and at other social gatherings.
Along with the conversations, let’s also see role modelling that says it better than any words.