Kudos to Asau! And now for everyone to follow

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Mata'afa Keni Lesa

The village of Asau in Savai’i has set a great example for all men and all villages in Samoa at the start of 2018. 

Their decision to set rules in place to deal with abusive men is something every village in Samoa should look to emulate – if they are not doing it already.

When it comes to dealing with the scourge of domestic violence, we’ve always maintained that we can only progress when all pillars of Samoan society are working hand in hand to do their part. This involves the government, churches, villages and families.

There is absolutely no denying the fact that the Village Councils is one of the strongest pillars of Samoan society. Without their work, governance and diligence, there will be social chaos all across these islands. That’s because we barely have enough Police officers to man traffic violations in town. What hope is out there therefore to monitor behaviour in villages and rural communities?

Which makes the policing and monitoring role of the village councils that much more critical. We know this much. Samoa will not be what the peaceful country it is today without them. Their work to maintain order and social stability is absolutely vital. And this applies to dealing with many things, from drunks, theft, fights, land disputes and so forth.

Now on the far west of Savai’i, the village of Asau is taking things a step further. At the start of the new year, it has publicised that they have put in place a zero tolerance policy for violence against women. That means any man of the village who is found to have beaten his wife, spouse or laid a hand on a woman will get the boot, no questions asked.

The decision according to the Member of Parliament and Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopao’o Natanielu Mua, reflects their commitment to a nationwide effort to eliminate violence against women once and for all.

 “The females are the most precious beings on this earth,” he said. 

 “That is why for Asau Village, our women are special. We will do everything within our authority to assure that our women are protected, even from their husbands.”

Like anything new, there will be teething problems. There is also the question of how the village council will prove allegations against the men and what happens in cases where families reconcile and the woman pleas for the Village Council to give the man another chance. 

What we’ve got here is basically the Village Council stepping into the role of a Judge and Jury. Which means that everything the Justice system is experiencing when it comes to dealing with the issue of violence against women will be felt by the Village Council. Are they prepared for it? Well no one knows.

What we can say is that it’s not as easy as it sounds. Which is why we commend the Village Council of Asau for being brave enough to give it a go. They wouldn’t know where the problems are unless they try. That’s the thing about life; we would never know our strengths and weaknesses unless we step out to give it a go.

“It all comes down to us, men who are the head of the families and chiefs in our villages,” said Lopao’o. “We see the issue and we step in to fix it. Asau does not condone violence against their women. Women from Asau and women who are married into our village, are all protected.”

That is great to know.

 “We are at the time and age for men to realize that women should not put up with any type of attack, whether it’s physical or verbal,” he said. 

“Violence not only has negative consequences for women, but also their families, the community and the country at large.”

But it’s not just violence that Asau is targeting. Lopao’o said they would also deal with sexual offenses and other shameful sex crimes.

Lastly, the Minister said he hopes other villages will follow the example.

“One can only wish that this initiative will be considered by other villages,” he said. “I am not telling anyone what to do, but merely asking that they consider the need for this issue to be addressed in the villages. 

“An issue that will be discussed and the Village Council must act on it, not just talk about it and not take any action. This issue should be addressed by the families in the villages and in the churches, we must act.”

We couldn’t agree more with Minister Lopao’o. 

And now that a village on a very remote far flung corner of Savai’i has shown the way, what is stopping every other village in Upolu, Apolima, Manono and Savai’i from taking their cue and following this most wonderful example? 

What do you think?

Have a wonderful weekend Samoa, God bless!

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