2 Oct 2017

Samoa family violence inquiry chair labels attitudes cowardly

2:32 pm on 2 October 2017

The chairman of the Samoa Commission of Enquiry into Family Violence has labelled as cowardly the prevailing attitude among Samoan men that women contribute to acts of sexual assault on them through their behaviour and fashion choices.

Domestic violence is an enduring problem in many Pacific Island states.

Photo: 123rf

In an unprecedented move, Maiava Iulai Toma, who is also the country's Ombudsman, has released a statement two weeks into the enquiry, condemning this school of thought amongst his fellow Samoan males.

He said that to suggest the way women dress and behave somehow fuels a primitive urge within men that is beyond their control, is victim blaming of the highest order and should not be tolerated.

The chairman also said that to suggest that the victims in some way make them culpable for what happens to them not only revictimises them but also allows abusers to continue their behaviour while avoiding accountability.

Maiava praised the courage of those who have given evidence on the issue to the Commission and says they're an inspiration in the face of these cowardly acts that harm the very fabric of society, the fa'aSamoa.

The covenant between brother and sister or the feagaiga, which is a fundamental part of the Samoan culture, is being torn apart when Samoans blame their sisters for the sexual abuse inflicted upon them.

Maiava said that the time for talking is almost over and hesaid the Commission has been very saddened to learn of the prevailing attitudes and will explore this issue in full on their report to Parliament, due out next year.

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