Churches in Samoa called on to support efforts to stop domestic violence

domestic violence

The National Public Inquiry into Family Violence names the government, the village and the church as having some responsibility for a “veil of silence” over domestic violence in Samoa.

One of the 39 recommendations in its report is for a government-led response supported by the church and village.

Dr Mercy Ah Siu Maliko says the church must change to be a better support to all victims of domestic violence.

She said in Samoa, 99.8 percent of the population are members of a church. This gives church leaders invaluable access to a community.

“Church leaders have a prophetic role in breaking the silence on domestic violence.”

Maliko said that instead of acting as a kind of conscience for the people, the church has been tolerating domestic violence.

She said women who do disclose their abuse to someone may find the church an unsympathetic ear.

“Telling them to pray more, forgive, kiss and make-up is not enough.”

While little has been documented on church responses to domestic violence, Maliko’s research has identified a basic blueprint for how churches across Samoa have been responding.

She learned the attitude of “keeping our front lawn tidy” and not exposing the perpetrator of violence is a key contributor to allowing the issue of domestic violence to continue being swept under the rug.

Maliko is a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Otago and Piula Theological College, and is considered a pioneer in the field of public theology, especially as a woman.

She was speaking at the 4th Samoa Conference in the first week of September.

The report found nine out of 10 people in Samoa experience violence in the home.

Six out of 10 women experience intimate partner violence and one in five is raped.

 

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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