S.V.S.G. launches anti-violence campaign

The Samoa Victim Support Group “start with men campaign” has attracted 20 participants keen on addressing violence within families at the community level. 

The campaign’s official launch was held at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel on Tuesday, and will strive to address male masculinity and get men to understand women as well as support women empowerment advocacy.

S.V.S.G. Patron, Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau, gave the keynote address at the launch and emphasised that any form of violence does not have a place in Samoa.

“Violence against anyone at any place and at any time is no place amongst peaceful place like ours,” he said. 

A participating youth member, Faamanu Kelemete, said she wants to learn new ideas on how to increase advocacy targeting youth in her village.

“I can’t tell my dad what to do but the idea here is that we’re trying to involve the youth members, so I’ll get the ideas of how to advocate the youth so I can do the same back in my village," she said.

A resident of Faleula, Ms Kelemete said her village has youth with challenges and she wants to share what she will learn from the campaign. 

For the S.V.S.G. Juniors President, Carmenita Solaese Lepou, their objective is to get men to appreciate their roles in the family and how they can address family violence. 

“This program is also mainly targeting the youth because we see them as the fourth rung of addressing future incidents for Samoa, and this is why we started with the men because we’re trying to empower young men and boys in order to address the importance of family roles,” she said.

“Not only with family roles but also for understanding what are the courses of violence within families so this is the start of our campaign.”

In the lead-up to the launch, S.V.S.G. executive members travelled to four different countries to learn from their experiences on how to run similar campaigns. The campaigns focused on partnerships with youth from various villages in a rural community. 

The S.V.S.G. “start with men campaign” will also be extended to Savai’i for two weeks. 

Ms Lepou said: “For us, looking at a different perspective is going through the youth and from the youth, they could be the voice in helping out, for example with family roles, talking to their parents having safe spaces and from there, that is our message of trying to get the youth involved.”

The campaign will also strive to overcome cultural barriers that make it difficult for youth to have a voice, which Ms Lepou said will enable parents to understand and appreciate their voices.

“This is our partnerships through all our youth members from the rural areas, so that is our target, we go out in the rural areas and create partnerships with the youth groups in order for us to reach out in the rural areas,” she said.

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