BY Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 19 MAY 2017: A survey on Family Health & Survey Report 2016 has revealed an alarming increase in the number of women who have experienced violence in the hands of their spouses, partners or family.
The report which is in its first draft form will be launched later in the month, but it stated that 60% of women and girls have been violated either “emotionally, physically or sexually.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development, Naea Beth Onesemo said the report has highlighted “lots of critical findings.”
The last report in 2000 which was published in 2005 recorded only 40% of women, but 60% is “scary” said Naea.
She pointed out that the numbers in the report shows that “we are not doing well at all.”
“We need to read and then figure out what and why it is happening,” said Naea.
Naea hopes once the report is finalized, it will be shared through different avenues before starting a discussion on what should be done differently to change the numbers.
“Even in its draft form, the findings in there are very critical and we really need to have a sit down and properly think about why these numbers continue to grow,” she said.
Naea said Samoa does not need a study to tell us that things are really terrible, and went on to cite the case of a Saoluafata woman who died before the celebration of Mothers’ day last week.
“I hope this becomes a wake-up call for all of us,” she said.
She believes the key to changing the numbers, “is changing peoples’ mind set on how they perceive things, and the best place to start from is within families.
“Parents should have conversation with their sons and daughters of what to expect once they are married and attitudes towards life.”
Naea said that there is a perception by some men that once married a man can do whatever he likes to a woman, such as joking about it or composing songs to poke fun at a woman.
“Things have to change, but the issue or violence against women is no different from other health issues where a person needs to change his attitude about certain little things,” said Naea.
In the 2016 report, there are recommendations for new approaches and Naea hopes to work together with the village councils, church leaders, community, non-government organizations, families and everyone to make this new approach successful.
The survey report will guide a five year plan that will start with the launching of the report at the end of this month.