Satitoa unites to end domestic violence
The Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) made use of traditional displays of Samoan culture in its latest campaign against the scourge of violence against women in the village of Satitoa on the weekend.
The “My Village, My Pride” is focused on ending domestic and intimate partner violence.
Satitoa is on Upolu’s east coast and has over 500 residents. It is one of eight villages working with the S.V.S.G.'s advocacy campaign.
The initiative seeks to mobilise both the creative sector and traditional institutions.
The event was not unlike any other celebratory occasion held in the village and included songs and dances for Satitoa. But there was one key difference: it centred on the theme of a village uniting to end domestic violence and intimate partner violence.
Saturday’s event drew a full house and attendees included church leaders, traditional leaders, women both young and old, young people and children.
On display were traditional folklore told through dance and songs, united by the “My Village, My Pride” campaign theme.
Local elders said it was their pride in their village that motivated them to create a living environment where everyone feels safe, empowered and protected violence in all its forms.
This campaign brought together both church and traditional leaders and encouraged young people and artists to have their voices heard about creative ways to send anti-violence messages.
In a statement, the S.V.S.G. said it believed that traditional Samoan culture reflects men’s respect for women and girls, but added that the country was moving away from these traditional values.
Using displays of traditional cultural art is an effective means of discussing sensitive issues such as gender-based violence in communities.
“Domestic and intimate partner violence is a widespread, persistent and devastating reality in the country but this is not Samoan culture: women and girls are cherished members of Samoan society and they are not to be subjected to physical or sexual violence,” the group’s statement said.
“It is our responsibility to stop it; Samoan tradition teaches boys and men to respect women and girls, not to kill or abuse them.”
The campaign aims to encourage new means of thinking about traditional values to prevent domestic and intimate partner violence and calls on all participants to show their solidarity with survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence.
The Satitoa event programme included a debate - the topic was whether Women were the lifeline of a Family - a performing arts competition open to women and young people in the name of promoting village pride through an anti-violence message.
The campaign is part of the Spotlight Initiative, a global project to end violence against women and girls, launched last year with €3.5 million ($10.6 million) allocated to Samoan partners in a mission to end domestic violence.