Abuse survivors in Samoa urged to rise up
With an increase in the number of gender-based violence cases in Samoa amidst the pandemic, young women sexual abuse survivors have united to encourage others to “rise up.”
The young women have formed a group called “Sisters of Hope” and they were previously under the care of the Samoa Victim Support Group at the Campus of Hope.
Previously victims of sexual abuse who have gone through shelter care for their own safety, they have also taken the stand within the courts to fight for justice, whilst enduring the stigma and discrimination from the community upon their reintegration.
But they have vowed to push one and have challenged vulnerable young women to “rise up, just as the sun rises up on the dawn of a new day.”
According to the S.V.S.G. a three-day retreat was held where the young women gathered to share the experiences they faced, after re-discovering life within the safety of the Campus of Hope.
Furthermore, they said the newly formed group of women were sexually abused at a young age, some as young as six.
There were also young women who became pregnant following their sexual assault and gave birth between the ages of 11 to 12; who have attempted suicide at the age of 10 due to the trauma they have gone through.
“But seeing the young women formed the feminist movement to fight sexual violence in Samoa is encouraging, especially in light of the dramatical spike in the percentage of gender-based violence cases in Samoa since the COVID-19,” reads a statement that the S.V.S.G. issued.
“This is even after years of advocacy work for the safety of children while lobbying for policy and legislation to be in place for the protection of children.
“Who could be the better fighters in this field than these young women; and who can better reach other vulnerable young women who slip through the cracks of existing programs than them?"
The group also added that through the FRIDA young feminist funding support, the Sisters of Hope have had a domino effect in the elevation of survivor centered empowerment to rise above and lead initiate that are relevant to young women, who have been traumatised and deeply affected by sexual violence.
The participants at a three-days retreat are locally based young members of the Sisters of Hope, who are joined virtually by other Sisters of Hope who are now residing overseas with some building families of their own while others are continuing with their studies.
The Sisters of Hope also thanked the FRIDA feminist fund for believing in their ability to push through with the movement in Samoa.