Over 3,000 crime cases referred to S.V.S.G. in 2020
Over 3,000 cases of assault, rape, incest, domestic violence and child abuse were referred to the Samoa Victim Support Group in 2020.
This was confirmed by the S.V.S.G. President Siliniu Lina Chang in an interview with the Samoa Observer.
She said the 3,169 victim cases that they handled last year comprised assault (general), attempted rape and suicide, indecent assault, sexual violation, rape and incest and added that the total cases is the highest ever in the humanitarian organisation’s 15 years of operation.
In the previous year 2019 the S.V.S.G. only recorded 1,211 cases with Siliniu attributing the doubling of the cases to the impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic on families and the community in Samoa.
For the total number of victim cases recorded last year, data from the humanitarian organisation showed that 1,073 were sexual violence cases while 1,019 was recorded for children up to 18-years of age.
The S.V.S.G. also dealt with 25 rape cases; incest (9); indecent assault (12) and child abuse (57) as well as handled 187 cases of domestic violence with some perpetrated against children.
Siliniu explained that the Campus of Hope housed 153 children from July to August 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are also over 70 children, who are victims of various forms of abuse, under their care at the Campus of Hope at Tuanaimato.
Before they were established, the effects of the absence of such an organisation in Samoa dedicated to providing support and refuge for victims of sexual crimes, was quite evident.
To fill the void, ex-police officers and members of the criminal investigation team of the Attorney General’s Office led by the then Attorney General, Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu, united to form the S.V.S.G. with the goal to care, counsel and support and help victims of sexual crimes. Over the years the S.V.S.G. has provided a refuge for victims, both young and old, of sexual crimes and abuse since its establishment in 2005.
The organisation has become a beacon of hope for hundreds of women and children, who would otherwise have nowhere else to turn to for help. According to statistics from the S.V.S.G. they have dealt with more than 15,000 cases over the years.
In 2013 the S.V.S.G. advocated for legislative changes to protect the rights of vulnerable people, which saw the Government pass landmark legislation – the Family Safety Act 2013 and Crimes Act 2013 – which criminalised family violence and established a Family Court.
These legislative mechanisms put the spotlight on children’s rights and enable more people to come forward to report abuse and seek resolution.