Human rights campaign begins in Savai'i

A campaign to stop violence, stigma and discrimination against minority groups including girls, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (L.G.B.T.) people and those with a disability in Samoa has been launched. 

The mobile campaign was launched by the Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) in Savai’i.

The objective of the programme is to inform minority groups of their human rights.

It also seeks to increase the ability and accountability of individuals and institutions that are responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling these rights. 

The President of S.V.S.G., Siliniu Lina Chang, said that the road trip targets the grassroots community.

“It is gauging the support of village and church leaders to influence a change in mentality towards these minority groups, while encouraging them to speak out,” she said.

The programme is the S.V.S.G.’s contribution to the combined work of the Regional Civil Societies Organisation. The organisation is coordinated by the Equality and Justice Alliance, which works to improve justice for women, girls and the Pacific’s L.G.B.T.+ population.

In 2019, S.V.S.G. and the Samoa Fa’afafine Association, together with local partners carried out the National Advocacy Campaign to end violence, stigma and discrimination.

The Equality and Justice Alliance is a consortium of four international non-governmental organisations in London namely the Sisters for Change, Kaleidoscope Trust, Human Dignity Trust and The Royal Commonwealth Society.  

The programme was established to address the issue of increasing violence against women.

According to a statement from S.V.S.G., there was a case where a pastor's daughter was a victim of physical abuse.

Another case involved a career-driven working professional, who, behind closed doors, was a victim belittled by physical and verbal abuse.

“A 43-year-old mother of eight came into the S.V.S.G. office to seek protection from an abusive husband by applying for an Interim Protection Order,” the organisation said.

It added that after years of being beaten, insulted, and threatened, she decided that it was the last time she would be abused by her husband.

Siliniu has also called on members of the public who are being abused physically or emotionally to speak out:

“If you or someone you know is being abused physically or emotionally, call us on the Help Line 800-7874.

“No amount of problem warrants an end to a precious life.”  

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