“Women empower Samoa in every way” — former policewoman

Women are the backbone of society, according to the Independence Day parade announcers, as they welcomed on different women’s groups to the stage.

Several women’s committee councils and groups joined the national celebrations at Mulinuu to mark Samoa’s 57 years of independence.

One of those groups was the women of Tofa Sinasina, the organisation of former policewomen.

Matamua Mandy Skelton-Keil, who became a policewoman in 1990 said Tofa Sinasina is still a young group, so it was great to march in the parade.

“It is an honour to support the work police do in regards to victims of crimes, and especially domestic violence,” she said.

“It’s probably the biggest challenge right now because of the high rates of domestic violence in Samoa.”

Tofa Sinasina attempts to combine the crime policing know-how with community and counselling training, to empower former policewomen to continue their work helping their communities.

“We are preventers, we have to help out the community,” Matamua said. Women naturally look around them to make sure everything is okay, she said. 

The society’s President is Tavui Anne Laumea, who became a policewoman in 1969 and was one of the first seven women to join the force.

She said people should stop “minding their own businesses” and help ending domestic violence when they know it happens.

“Take care of your next door neighbours, take care of everybody. If you hear violence happening, help!”

Her organisation intends to be a “crisis centre for combatting violence against the family.

“Lately there is a lot of problems going on at home and women dying for no reason, that is why we have put this up.”

Tofa Sinasina wants to counsel perpetrators rather than throw them behind bars, said member Sala Ana Ponifasio. She joined the force in 1980.

“We need to counsel people first, instead of putting him behind bars and taking him to court,” she said.

“That is not Tofa Sinasina, we are older and wiser and we are here to lend a hand.”

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