Report zeroes in on gender equality

Eliminating gender inequality, all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls and people living with H.I.V. and key populations by 2020, is the goal of the Ministry of Health. 

This was revealed in their 2018 Global Aids Monitoring report 2018 for the reporting period between January-December 2017.

“Studies have shown that gender inequality is quite common and a growing issue in Samoa. Domestic violence is highly prevalent.” 

“Many women in Samoa feel domestic violence are justified with 70 percent stating it is permissible for a husband to beat his wife if she is unfaithful to him, doesn’t do housework, or disobeys him (State of the Human Rights Report Samoa, Ombudsman 2015).” 

“Overall, 46 percent of Samoan women who have ever been in a relationship have experienced one or more kinds of partner abuse (U.N. Women 2011).”

“The most common form of spousal abuse is physical abuse (38 percent), followed by sexual abuse (20 percent) and emotional abuse (19 percent).” 

“The kinds of abuse experienced by women include being slapped or having objects thrown (35 percent), being punched (18 percent), being forced to have sex (17 percent), insults (14 percent), being coerced into having sex (11 percent), and being kicked, dragged or beaten (11 percent) (U.N. Women 2011).”

“About 30 percent of women who had been physically abused reported being injured, with the most common injury being abrasions and bruises (22 percent), followed by damage to eye or ear (9 percent), cuts, punctures and bites (9 percent) and losing consciousness (8 percent) (U.N. Women 2011).”  

“Women who reported abuse were significantly more likely to report that their partner was opposed to contraception (15 percent compared with 5 percent) (U.N. Women 2011),” says the report. 

Furthermore a multi-country study conducted by W.H.O. from 2000-2003 found that in Samoa that 10 percent of all women who had ever been pregnant were beaten during at least one pregnancy.  

Among women who were ever physically abused in their lifetime, 24 percent reported the abuse occurred during pregnancy.  

In 96 percent of those cases, the perpetrator was the father of the child. In terms of the health of these women, abused women who had ever been pregnant were significantly more likely to have had stillborn children (16 percent versus 10 percent) and miscarriages (15 percent versus 8 percent).  

“A legal analysis of violence against women found that there is a range of factors that increase women’s vulnerability to violence, including economic opportunities, poverty, status and dependency.” 

“In patriarchal societies the status of women is determined by the social ranking system of the family and the kin group, with customary practices determining how women are treated.” 

“Female abuse is not seen as a violation of women’s human rights as it is often justified as a means of discipline and correction, and dismissed as a private dispute within the family.” 

The M.O.H. report indicates that law enforcement agencies and the courts, until recently, have traditionally taken a hands-off approach to V.A.W., deferring to family privacy and the traditional dispute resolution processes. 

“In small close-knit communities where members are closely related, law enforcement agencies are reluctant to arrest perpetrators. Reconciliation of the parties is encouraged in both law and customary practice.” 

“The social costs of domestic violence on health care, the justice system, the economy and on families remain high. Fa’afafine community in Samoa is well accepted in our society.”

“Faafafine (transgender) although very visible and vocal in their own way, they are also being faced with problems from particular the males of our communities. Sexual abuse, with physical abuse that these people experience is not properly recorded.” 

“Measures need to be formalised in order to gauge in a clear perspective of issues facing these group.”

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