05 Oct No More.
This is Fatima Tupa’i. #SayHerName.
She was 25yrs old and she had two children – a 2yr old and a baby thats only a month old. Her husband bashed her to death with a rock while she lay sleeping with her babies beside her. They were at her family’s home because she had left him due to his violent abuse. Her cousin told the Samoa Observer “Fatima was a very good mother to her children…when things were bad, she promised that she will never return to her husband but said she will look after children and our grandmother.”
Too often when a woman is abused, we ask “why doesnt she leave him?” We say, “If she were a strong Samoan woman blah blah then she wouldnt let him treat her that way. She wouldnt put up with it.”
Fatima Tupa’i tried to leave him. She tried asking the police for help. She was a strong woman who took her children away from her violent partner.
And she was savagely murdered for it.
We must STOP placing the responsibility for domestic violence on the shoulders of our women and instead, we must hold men accountable. We must ask, “WHY does he beat her? WHY does he think its ok to try and control the woman he ‘loves’ with fear, intimidation and brutality?” We must ask ourselves, as parents teachers caregivers and policymakers – WHAT ARE WE TEACHING OUR SONS?? How is it that we are raising so many men that are treating women with callous disrespect and even with murderous intent?
Instead of being dismissive of abused women and their suffering, we must ask our aiga, our Village Fono and our wider communities – WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TO STOP MEN FROM HURTING WOMEN? From killing them?
Please, stop making excuses for violence against women. Stop saying –
“Its because he was drunk…”
“Its because she answered back and was disrespectful…”
“Its because she burnt his dinner…”
“Its because she’s a pa’umuku…”
“It’s because she’s weak and cant stand up to her husband…”
Our hearts ache for Fatima Tupa’i and so many others who have died at the hands of the men who were supposed to love them best. Our hearts ache for the children they left behind.
How many more women must die before we collectively, as aiga, as communities and as a nation – say NO MORE?
What can you do to help effect change?
1. Write a letter to the media. Dont let Fatima Tupai become another forgotten statistic.
2. Talk to your MP. Let them know how important this issue is. We are coming up on election year. They are in the mood to listen. Tell them your vote depends on it.
3. Talk to your Village Fono. Ask them to adopt a #NoMoreViolence policy and commit to prioritizing the safety of women. When a woman reports her partner’s abuse, the Village Fono can help uphold a police protection order by placing a temporary ban on the abuser so he is not allowed back in the village. Make her safety the responsibility of everyone in the village.
4. The Samoa Law Reform Commission together with the Ministry of Women, are holding public consultations throughout October about the status of women in Samoa and what legislative changes are needed to improve things. They are compiling feedback for use in Samoa’s CEDAW Report. Go to the consultations. Add your voice.
5. Contact Samoa Victim Support. Offer whatever assistance you can to support their invaluable work with women and children who are survivors of abuse.
6. Talk to your faifeau. Ask him to make DV a topic for Sunday sermons. Consider options for holding marriage and relationship workshops for your congregation.
7. Talk to your sons about what it means to respect women. Model good communication and respectful behaviour in your home.
Please add your suggestions. We need more dialogue on this issue. We all have a part to play in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the women of Samoa.