Miss Fa'afafine Pageant tackles issues

The seven contestants of the Samoa Fa'afafine Pageant and the Samoa Fa'afafine Association (S.F.A) are working to raise awareness on stigma and how it affects their peers.

The contestants and members of the association met at the S.S.A.B. conference room on Tuesday to discuss the challenges associated with stigma and how it affected them and the communities they live in. 

Stigma is one of three main themes highlighted during the one-week long pageant programme, with the activity of exchanging symbols in violence, stigma and discrimination done to educate the contestants who are ambassadors this year. 

Senior S.F.A. member, Fagalima Tuatagaloa, said solutions were discussed in their campaign and they are hopeful it will work and be applied in the communities.

“So they need to know and understand what is stigma, discrimination, violence or their causes. They also need to know what solutions or immediate actions to take.

"They are long term solutions and it takes time to implement but what are the immediate actions they can use to promote the fight against abuse and discrimination.

“We want to know how much knowledge they do have in these things and try and get out of their minds. How can they address the issue not just this week of the pageant but how we see who is best to be our ambassador to promote the area on violence, stigma and discrimination.”

According to Fagalima, the contestants this year come from different professional backgrounds.

“Not just talk about it but they can also provide materials like I.E.C. materials to stamp in their workplaces to spread and promote about the programme. The one thing I emphasized yesterday is when we speak about these issues, we always tend to blame others in the community," he said. 

“They do the violence, stigma and discrimination against us but understand that it’s not just the others but perhaps it’s them.

“They were raising some of the solutions and I was trying to guide them to enforce this and that but why enforce it when you can use your common sense to adapt to and apply?”

The campaign targets not just men, but women and children as well as fa'afafine in their own internal communities.

Fagalima said a classic example is education and the need to strive hard in school and university order to get better qualifications and jobs.

"We are bread winners in our own families as we give money to serve our family commitments, church commitments and all those,” he said.

"While we are entertaining, we also want to educate them not only to how the beauty but sow the intelligence that you are the activist of this work and overall, we started from within our families and communities. What do we have to do within our families and communities to stop violence, discrimination and stigma.

 “We were also looking at education in terms of awareness and trainings and looking at school curriculum if there is enough emphasis to it by the people to know their values.

“In schools, they have welfare talks and this is another good way to build up the minds of the kids to learn how violence and stigma are bad and all that.”

“It’s the influences in or families that are causing all these as we always see them argue and especially ur fathers bullying our mothers and children so it’s that picture in our families that raise us the way we are today and we need to solve them."

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