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News : Good practice

Ombudsman applauds village efforts to combat domestic violence

Graphic: A man wears a T-shirt with an anti-domestic violence slogan

Any untitled man in Vaie’e village responsible for domestic violence will be fined $2,000 and face banishment if he fails to pay the fine.

Any untitled man in Vaie'e village who is responsible for domestic violence will be fined $2,000 and face banishment if he fails to pay the fine.

The decision was taken by the Vaie'e village council in response to a legal complaint filed by a women against her husband alleging physical abuse.

The woman alleged she was beaten regularly and to the point where, in some instances, she lost conscious. The court reportedly wrote to the village council to bring the woman's complaint to their attention.

"It triggered the council ruling to apply to every man who commits violence against his wife," village council representative Lealaimanu Mafutaga told Newsline Samoa.


Participants at a public hearing of the national inquiry into family violence

"The data collected … on domestic violence from village consultations and the national inquiry is a blueprint to address the problem … Along with the Office of the Ombudsman, we are all holding out crossed fingers that more villages will join up. We plead and pray that they do."

Mataeliga Pio Sioa
Editor, Newsline Samoa, writing in an opinion editorial


Following its recent national inquiry into family violence, the Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa applauded the decision.

"A big faamalo to the village council of Vaie'e for taking a stand against violence by putting in place such measures to help eliminate violence against women," the Office said in a Facebook post.

"It goes to show that stopping violence is possible if leaders take the lead and be the change."

Samoa's national human rights institution went on to say that "despite titled men being excluded, the move is definitely a promising baby step in building a safer Samoa".

The Ombudsman's national inquiry report highlighted the crucial leadership role that village councils and church groups can play to combat family violence, working in partnership with the government.

Village council fines for different offences commonly range from $300 to $1,000. A fine of $2,000 represents a severe punishment.

"The punishment is fitting because this kind of crime shames the village," Lealaimanu told Newsline Samoa.

He said the council's decision sends a strong message to all men in the village and gives tangible support to national efforts to protect women from violence.

"We are not sitting around … while our women are suffering in silence. Men cannot do whatever they want," Lealaimanu said.

Date: 18 February 2019


Image credits

  1. A man wears a T-shirt with an anti-domestic violence slogan - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa
  2. Participants at a public hearing of the national inquiry into family violence - Office of the Ombudsman of Samoa