Solving family violence a nationwide priority
Domestic violence is not just a problem for men.
Since some of the instigators are women, they too need help too.
That is view of Rosa Mata’ia of Maninoa Siumu who says while it’s a known fact that men cause the majority of the cases, it’s important to also focus on the behaviour of a certain population of women.
“It’s a community problem, not just men,” she said.
“It’s really sad to hear that many mothers are involved in many cases of violence against men and women. You see, in many cases it is women abusing other women including family members and their own children.”
Rosa says that some 30 odd years ago, domestic violence and abuse against women was not heard off.
“Everything was governed under the Samoan culture and God.”
The mother strongly believes these ugly events are occurring because Samoa has lost its Christian values and traditional cultural principles.
“Yes, many families no longer function the way they used to 20-30 years ago.”
“Much of the violence against women is from their own family members and brothers.
“They forget that sisters (tuafafine) are covenant (feagaiga-tausi) regardless of their age, they forget that it’s their (men’s) responsibility to look after them, and to serve them until death.”
“The relationship is known as the sister is the pupil of the brother’s eye - o le teine o le mea uliuli i le mata o tuagane.”
“If that relationship stays strong before a young man becomes a husband to someone else, he would never commit any unlawful act against his wife.”
“But what’s happening now, I hear that a brother was caught with a sister, father punched others or the mothers while the children look on.”
“Yes, this violence take place at home when such roles and values are misunderstood and unappreciated.”
“We’ve heard that husbands physically abuse their wives for disrespecting or not paying attention to what he was trying to say.”
Rosa believes that once this continues to happen between the husband and wife it slowly becomes a norm in our society. Such she said is the case right now.
“But we should change that mindset and no one has any right to commit any act of violence against women or any other members of families.”
So what is her solution?
“It’s everyone’s responsibility to work together to stop violence in our society.” she added.
“For example, the village council (Pulega ali’i ma faipule) has a role to play, if anything happens, they shouldn’t sweep it under the floor because I tell you, many village councils in our country are treating family violence as a private matter. They should step in and help out.”
The government also “should create a public awareness through workshops in villages”.
A workshop she believes is a very reliable form of education to address family violence.
“We should act before it’s too late. Remember nothing is impossible when we work together.”