Government’s failure to provide adequate services, support and prevention to tackle family violence shows that it implicitly endorses its continuation.
These are the findings of the Family Violence Report prepared by the Office of the Ombudsman which was recently launched.
The Government must take extensive steps to address systemic and discriminatory violence such as family violence, stated the report, and these include the provision of shelter and the acknowledgement that there is a need for such shelters.
“Government’s failing to provide shelters violates the human rights of those who endure family violence. Given the resources available, the Government of Samoa will not be able to establish shelters for victims of violence. Alternatively, it is using existing mechanisms like care provided by extended families, church and community leaders.”
According to the report to the suggestion there are suggestions that the Government is not entirely serious about preventing family violence in Samoa.
“Professional counseling is essential in rehabilitating victims of family violence, some of whom have endured horrific and sustained treatment at the hands of their loved ones, and often compounded by a false belief that they are in some way to blame.
“Providing counseling and social services to victims and perpetrators of violence can help to break the cycle of violence, and help them better cope with and recover from the health and mental health consequences of these experiences including trauma symptoms.”
The report also highlighted the need for qualified counselors to take on the job.
“It can be really deadly if you are doing counseling and doing it in the wrong way. If the way you unpick a situation is wrong it can have deadly consequences.”
The report said the claim that the Government cannot afford to provide shelters is not untrue and sends a message that family violence is not perceived to be a significant problem. It also reveals the savings from addressing family violence would be in the millions and shelter services would be a self-funding part of that process.
As part of its research into the issue, consultations were done with 1500 people who were representative of the population. The feedback showed that 85 per cent view family violence as a priority issue.
“It is time the Government started to treat it as such and in addition to the lack of any services in relation to family violence such as shelters, family violence crisis centres or rehabilitation programmes, the Government is conspicuous in its lack of efforts to provide qualified counselors for victims and perpetrators of family violence.”