Guests at the launching of the 16 Days of Activism on Ending Violence Against Women & National Disability Campaign at Lalomanu, Australian High Commissioner, Sue Langford, Reverend Etisone Gafa, and Associate Minister for MWCSD Tofa Foleni Lio. Infront of them is the Queens Baton.
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – WEDNESDAY 06 DECEMBER 2017: Church ministers and Members of Parliaments who abuse and beat their wives should be banned from holding such positions.
The message was loud and precise and the audience at the launching of the 16 Days of Activism on Ending Violence Against Women, National Disability Week & Ending Violence Campaign at Lalomanu village, responded with a cheer.
The speaker on the theme “Safe Families, Stronger Samoa” was Reverend Etisone Gafa of the Congregational Christian Church of Lalomanu where the campaign was launched.
“Church ministers and Government leaders should be in the forefront of this campaign. However, it saddens me to know that even my colleagues in the ministry are agents of such offences against women,” said Reverend Gafa.
“Church ministers and MPs should be part of the solution, as front runners in educating people and help stop violence everywhere,” he said.
Reverend Gafa said that during his research, he found that 15 church ministers he knows abuse their wives, and 35% of Lalomanu women are abused.
He also found that the common causes of abuse against women at Lalomanu, based on the number of couples that have sought help from him are alcohol, refusing sex and over food.
“Men feel they have some kind of ownership over their wives and they feel they have the right to physically beat up a woman,” said Reverend Gafa.
He also emphasized that nothing is compared to the verbal and emotional abuse lashed out at women.
He said that in the past, when he prepared for a sermon, he used to get mad at his wife when she did not bring his coffee on time. However, he never laid a hand on her.
Reverend Gafa’s challenge is now before the Church Elders and Government – to stop all wife abusers from entering the church ministry or parliament.
He also challenged all women of Samoa “to start making noises about abuse.”
“Don’t just sit and keep your mouth shut. Make noises, and seek help,” he said.
The 16 days of activism started on the 25 November 2017 at Lalomanu village with the Queens baton was part of the promotion and will end 11 December 2017.