10 May What do 40% of women in Samoa want for Mother’s Day?

10 May, 2017. Samoa – If the exuberant social media adverts are to be believed, than your mother wants plants, flowers, a new puletasi, a gorgeous hat, or a cake for Mother’s Day this weekend.  I’m sure all the mothers in your life deserve all of that – and more!

But as I read yet another news story about yet another woman who has been hit by her husband –  and in this case, killed – I have an imaginary wish list from the mothers of Samoa. Specifically from the estimated 40+ percent of women in Samoa who experience abuse from their partners/spouses. It reads a little something like this…

Dear Samoa,

We are your daughters, wives, sisters and mothers. Many of us are blessed to be mothers to the children of this country. A blessing we are grateful to the Lord for. It’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly. As you prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, we humbly ask that you consider the following requests;

Please, we want our husbands to stop trying to control us with violence, threats, intimidation and fear. We want you to stop getting angry when we go to Bingo, a church activity, or a long stroll to the shop. We are grown adults like you and we have the right to go wherever we damn well please. Stop smashing our cellphones, taking our wages, and ordering us to change out of a skirt because you think it’s too short.

We want to know within our heart and soul, that when our husband has had a bad day, or he’s tired – that he’s not going to hit us. Even if we accidentally burn his food. Or get into an argument about the kids. We want to have a disagreement with you and still feel safe. Can you do that please?

If we don’t want to have sex, please don’t hit us. Or rape us. 

If you’re going to cheat on us please wear a condom so we don’t become one of the horribly high statistic of women in this country with chlamydia and other STI’s. 

We want our pastors to stop preaching that man is the head of the woman and so therefore we must submit to him in all things. Because every time you preach this, our abusive husband gets more ammunition for his controlling behaviour. Instead, can you please preach more about how a husband needs to love his wife like Christ loved the church, served it, loved it and literally gave His life for it? While you’re at it, can you add some bits about how parenting is a job for men too?

We want our mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and even our own mothers and sisters – to give good counsel to their sons and brothers. Stop telling them to fa’atonu their wives with a good fasi, stop encouraging them to slap us, stop cheering on the abuse. Please teach your sons that their sense of self-worth doesn’t come from how much control they have over another person, or how much fear they can provoke in their loved ones.

If we call the police Domestic Violence Unit for help, we want to be listened to and taken seriously. When we come to you with a bruised face, please don’t ask us ‘what did you do to make him angry’. Or tell us, ‘ah that’s nothing. Come on, are you sure you want to get your husband in trouble like this?’

Fa’afetai lava for your consideration.

2/5 of the women in Samoa

There you have it. Just a few wishful wishes for Mother’s Day that won’t cost you any money at all.  Sure, a new puletasi and some flowers would be nice. And pretty sermons and prayers of praise at church about how blessed mothers are – always feels good.

But what would feel even better, is knowing that no woman in this country is going to go to sleep at night and have her head bashed in with a rock. Or hacked at with a sapelu while she’s on her way to church. Or knocked down the stairs and killed. Or verbally abused and humiliated by the person who’s supposed to love her the most.

Until then, pretty flowers and pretty words once a year mean nothing.

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