Violence against women – a disease about to go out of control

Supreme Court Judge, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson speaking at the “Be the Man Forum”

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 26 NOVEMBER 2018: Supreme Court Judge, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson is alarmed at the increasing number of cases of violence against women on daily basis.

This was disclosed during his presentation at the “16 Days Activism – Be The Man Forum” that opened today.

He said cases brought before the Court were not only towards women and girls, but also against those with special needs.

“We see this on a daily and weekly basis, and I cannot imagine where this will end up if we cannot find a solution,” said His Honour.

He commended the Ombudsman’s Office for the National Inquiry Report where statistics on violence against women are recorded and provides evidence to what has been described a “disease that is about to go out of control.”

Why is this happening?
His Honour pointed out that the problem is well known to us and that we do not need any more information about violence, but what needs to be determined, is why it is happening.

“Do we have an understanding why families in Samoa are like this?” he asked.

“I believe that unless we find the root of the problem, we cannot have a solution.”

His challenged the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development to find the root, understand it then find ways to address it.

One participant at the forum pointed out that perhaps there is a need for stronger and severe laws, but Justice Vui said there are enough laws already.

Some of the participants at todays’ forum

Sexual abuse within couples at 95%
Sexual abuse between couples currently sits at a very high percentage and according to Aumua Eric Poe, it’s a problem buried under the guise of a happy couple.

Aumua is the Director of the Teen Challenge Program where offenders are referred to for counseling.

He said he was shocked to find out that 95% of incidences of violence against women are happening in couples or husband and wife.

“This is one problem that rarely comes up in abuse matters, after counseling and speaking with victims, it was realized that something had to be done,” he explained.

He said signs of abuse are seen on the body of these women either on their hands or necks, and many of them have tried to take their own lives.

The team at Teen Challenge has a hard task of not only trying to resolve but restore the couples as family and if things work out, then the couple is referred to the church leader to undergo a 10 week marriage counseling course.

Another serious problem that tops the charts is sexual abuse between brothers and sisters.

Aumua believes unless Samoa reaffirmed the sacred vows of “Feagaiga” between a brother and sister through its custom and culture, the problem will continue to increase.

Teen Challenge Director Aumua Eric Poe