Anger, jealousy, relationship problems drive domestic violence

Anger, jealousy, relationship issues and stress combine as the leading causes of domestic violence in Samoa, data released this week shows.

Second-tier causes include alcohol, extramarital affairs and anger, figures released by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration (M.J.C.A.) on Wednesday revealed.

Financial issues rank third, while land disputes combined with anger are the social problems' fourth leading combination of causes, the M.J.C.A. found.

Criminal domestic violence nature cases are dealt with by the Family Violence Court established under the Family Safety Act of 2013. The court commenced operations in August 2013.

(The Family Court, established in 2014 is a different entity with different jurisdiction.)

The Family Violence Court recorded 353 cases of domestic violence in 2019 alone. Some 176 of those cases were caused by anger, jealousy, relationship issues and stress.

Extramarital affairs, alcohol and anger, in combination, contributed to 108 cases of D.V. Financial issues led to 42 cases and 27 cases were caused by a combination of land disputes and anger.

In 2018, there were 318 D.V. cases while in 2017, there were 388 cases. That is a total of 1,059 domestic violence cases over a three-year period.

Assault is the most common form of violence in families, according to numbers from the Family Violence Court. Assault matters accounted for 564 criminal charges brought before the Family Violence Court between 2017 and 2019.

In the same three-year period, there were 343 charges relating to the use of insulting words. And being armed with a dangerous weapon accounted for 208 criminal charges.

 The use of threatening words were involved in 184 charges, while assault causing injury totalled 142 charges between 2017 and 2019.

There were 63 charges of throwing stones; 45 charges relating to being armed and 44 charges of threatening to kill. And while the court has recorded female perpetrators, most perpetrators are male.

In 2017, there were 315 males and 73 females charged in the Family Violence Court. 

In 2018, there were 244 males and 74 females brought before the court for domestic violence offences. In 2019, the number of male perpetrators rose to 307; some 46 perpetrators were brought before court.

Sexual abuse, cases of indecent assault and sexual violation were also prevalent. Such cases are heard in the Supreme Court.

An M.J.C.A. official shared the figures when she spoke to Family Safety Committees from three villages: Lotopue, Lalovi-Mulifanua and Vaiee on Wednesday at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel Conference Room.

The Wednesday event was hosted by The Office of the Ombudsman, also called the National Human Rights Institute (N.H.R.I.) at which the villages launched three-year work plans to prevent violence at the village level.

The N.H.R.I. has partnered with a number of organisations on the pilot project including: the Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls, funded primarily by the European Union and the Governments of Australia and New Zealand and U.N. Women. 

Partners also include: United Nations (U.N.) Women and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Sisters for Change and the E.U.-U.N. Spotlight Initiative.

The launch was held to commemorate the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women to 10 December, which is Human Rights Day.

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