Strengthening family values to overcome domestic violence

Village mayor and High Chief of Faletagaloa, Safune is a strong believer that matai and the village council plays a vital role in ending violence against women and children. 

Moreover, Tugaga Tevesi David is a firm believer that it takes a collective effort to address the issue. 

Tugaga's opinion was sought in his position not only as a village mayor, but also as the high chief (tu'ua) after a seminar that was held at Faletagaloa last week. 

"The importance of the seminar is that it created discussions to find solutions on how to eradicate this issue of violence against women within families and villages," he told the Sunday Observer.

"This issue of domestic violence is something that did not just happen yesterday. 

"It's an ongoing issue and that is why we are trying to find a solution. 

"The importance of these workshops and seminars in my opinion is that they created dialogue and opened discussions for people to talk about the issue where people gather to share their own experiences. 

"The discussions were very fruitful and some of the participants made some very useful points about how and what they feel is the best solution."

Tugaga said touching back on family values is crucial in finding ways to tackle the issue. 

"I strongly believe that there is a need to touch back on our values within our families. Everything begins at home, and we if go back to strengthening the foundation we will need not to worry about the bigger social institutions we are a part of. 

"Domestic violence happens at home, within families. 

"So if we have to break the chain and find solutions we need to back to our families. 

"Starting from the mother and the father and how they raise their kids. They should not only nurture, teach and guide their children away from violence, they should also show them that violence can never solve any problems. 

"I strongly believe that if they look after and raise children well the way they should be, they will grow up and become peacemakers."

He also says the matai and village council has a part to play in ending violence against women and children

"As the mayor and high chief of the village, I also believe that the village has a big role to play in solving this issue. 

"Samoa is a community with strong cultural values that goes together with our Christian beliefs. 

"Women or females are highly respected in the cultural context as they are called the "feagaiga" (covenant). So the village council should set rules and regulations within the different villages to sort of guide the behaviors of the village. 

A 2018 report, by the office of the Ombudsman on the national public inquiry in to family violence in Samoa, showed that 86 per cent of women were subjected to kicking, punching, slapping or causing bodily harm using a hard object; and 86 per cent of children experienced physical violence, such as kicking, punching or other assault.

"As the Church Minister of the C.C.C.S. parish at Faletagaloa Safune said, of the twelve years he has lived in Faletagaloa, there has never been a time where he heard of a mother from the village being abused by her husband," said the village mayor.   

"This is because of the rules and guidelines we have in place for our village. 

"There has never been a time when a couple has been separated because of an issue of domestic violence within our village. 

"You've also never heard of a case where a father sexually assaulted his daughter or step-daughter as you usually see on the news. 

"This is something that has happened in other villages, but not in Faletagaloa. This is because we have rules and guidelines in place to guide the behaviors of the people of the village. 

"It takes a collective effort and we all need to do our job. As a mother, as a father, as a church minister, as a matai, as a high chief, as a woman, and so forth. 

"In order to stop these issues from happening, we need to work together. 

"The village council plays a vital role in solving most of the issues happening in the country, including domestic violence against women and children. 

"For this village, we are not looking at the extreme punishments if we ever have a case of domestic violence within the village. 

"To me personally, I do not think punishing those who are abusing their wives and children by banning them from the village is the right solution. The question that comes to mind is, will that stop them from abusing their wives and children? Will they learn if we exercise that power and punishment upon them and their families? You have your own answer, but for me, I don't think that will solve the issue. 

"The best way to deal with it is to bring both of the parents or the father in. Bring them in so that the elders of the village can talk to them. Give them advice and tell them to stop. 

"As matai, we have a role to lead, protect and take care of our families. So if we see that there is a problem, we should address the problem and do the right thing. 

"That is why going back to strengthening our family values is crucial. 

"Family is where love begins. Its a place where we should love and be loved. A place where we can all be safe and well-protected. Then we come to the village. The village council that is made up of all the matai from the village should set rules and guidelines to guide the behaviors of the people in the village. Each matai should then inform his extended families of these rules and make sure that his children and families are obeying these rules. 

"If we stick to that, our work will be easier and there will be no more domestic violence in Samoa. Domestic violence happens at home so it is only appropriate to go back and strengthen that foundation in order to find the real solution to the problem."

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