Anti-violence advocates hope for better

Over a year after the launching of the US$4.3 million Spotlight Programme to tackle domestic and intimate violence, anti-violence advocates hope it will provide a long-term solution to the growing crisis.

A five-day workshop to address gender-based violence is currently underway at the Taumeasina Island Resort and has united the various stakeholders who are part of the programme.

Workshop participant Fuafua Sani told the Samoa Observer last week that she is learning a lot from the programme as it has enabled her to learn more about the issue and be in a position to impart her knowledge with others.

“I am learning a lot from this program, there is so much that needs to be changed and this is one way we can do this through these programs, we as young women are able to learn and educate our peers, our family members and our church communities,” she said.

“It has been an honor being present in this conference, and I am already utilising most of what I’ve learnt here today, hopefully, we can make a small change to help save or help the women and young girls of Samoa.”

The Spotlight Initiative Programme focuses on the current caretaker Government’s assurances to ending domestic and intimate partner violence and impact cultural institutions in support of ending violence against women and girls. 

As for 28-year-old Evile Alipia of Leulumoega, she believes that a relationship between a man and a woman should be equitable and “goes both ways”.

“In my perspective I believe that relationships between men and women should be strong, you should know who you are with, I guess the responsibility goes both ways…50/50.

“I am a man of god and I enjoyed the program because it was informative, and it's true men can be very abusive physically and mentally.

“But from these programs hopefully there can be some change to that, I guess my role after this could be to teach young men from 16 onwards about the importance of respect and obedience in your family and even to friends.”

The United Nations Resident Coordinator Dr Simona Marinescu highlighted a few points connected to the goal of the programme, where the importance of respect towards both men and women as equals were emphasised. 

She then pointed to the community effort to address the issue while highlighting the community effort towards this gesture of communication by conveying that input is needed between real communities; these services provided must be realistic; they need to be doable; and they need to be informative.

“Preventing violence keeps relationships safe and offers a positive, healthy environment for the children and the entire family,” she said. “We can only realize our full potential if we are surrounded by love and care.”

Spotlight Programme promotes quality relationships through awareness, prevention and support to the victims to heal and rebuild their lives after traumatic events.

There can be no progress, no prosperity and stability without social cohesion and without men and women working together in peaceful environments.

The program progressed further and split into groups of women and girls voicing their issues and stating their concerns and opinions around prevention tactics. 

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