3 Mar 2020

Samoa Ombudsman highlights family violence at UN meeting

11:20 pm on 3 March 2020

Samoa's Ombudsman Maiava Iulai Toma has highlighted issues of family violence during this week's Extraordinary Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Apia.

Samoa's Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma

Samoa's Ombudsman, Maiava Iulai Toma Photo: supplied

Maiava told delegates, children of the Pacific were in a good place compared to many around the world.

However he said it was distressing to have revelations of grave violations against children in the press almost daily.

Maiava spoke candidly about the amount of violence in Samoa.

"We begin through the way we raise our children to invite violence into our homes. We invite it to grow there and to flourish in our lives. The fact of the matter is, we in Samoa are potentially a violent community, just below the surface of our apparent customary tranquility."

Maiava headed a 2018 national inquiry on family violence and said the government could not tackle the problem alone but needed help from traditional village councils, churches and individuals.

"We have to focus meaningful action in the village itself where ugly things are happening to women and children," he said.

Maiava said the national inquiry report and its recommendations were under government consideration.

"A crucial recommendation is to establish a family safety committee in each village to work under the auspices of the village council of chiefs.

"This committee, to be comprised of selected, responsible village individuals is to be multi-tasked with the full range of whatever measures need to be taken in timely fashion, discreetly or otherwise, at the village level to deal with the abuse of women and children," Maiava said.