Remarks made by Acting Director of DYWA stir up furor
“I did not say that a woman neglecting herself caused her to be domestically violated. However, a woman neglecting herself may cause a husband to look elsewhere and there is seemingly a link to domestic violence,” was the explanation from Acting Director of Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs (DYWA), Pa’u Roy Ausage in response to Samoa News queries.
Last week, Pa’u stated in an article published in Samoa News that DYWA launched a training in the area of hairstyling — teaching local women how to “tame their mane, keep it looking hot and fresh,” and maintain a hairdo that suits their personality and facial features.
In this article the Acting Director was quoted saying that "based on surveys, one of the reasons why there are cases of Domestic Violence is because some women have decided to neglect themselves. He stated after having kids, women let themselves go and being unattractive is the cause of the husband’s wandering eyes”
These specific comments did not sit well with several women in the community, many of whom are strong advocates for victims of domestic violence.
The Acting Director further stated that at least 100 women who have been interviewed individually seemed to suggest that domestic violence in American Samoa is caused by three contributing factors— finances, sex drives, and power/control.
“Financial or "Le lava le faasoa” is caused by our Samoan faalavelave system. This factor is being mitigated with numerous trainings to empower women and develop skills in order for them to earn a living, or engage in industrious efforts to save money,” said Pa’u.
“On the factor of sex drives, some women who were interviewed felt that their husbands were looking at younger women and they cannot control their husband's sex drives.” Pa’u told Samoa News that according to them (the women) perhaps they have been neglecting themselves and caused their husbands to look elsewhere.
“When the husband looks elsewhere and ends up having an extramarital affair, the woman is upset, confronts the husband, and violence is generated. The husband wants power and control,” said Pa’u.
“I did not say that a woman neglecting herself caused her to be domestically violated. However, a woman neglecting herself may cause a husband to look elsewhere and there is seemingly a link to domestic violence.”
He further explained, “As Acting Director of DYWA, there was no intention to insult, degrade, offend, or put women asunder. I have been supportive of our women and have done everything with the support of this administration to empower our women and develop their capacities.”
“I sincerely apologize for any unintended comments to destroy anyone. However, I welcome individuals who claim they know so much in domestic violence to collaborate with DYWA in finding the root causes of domestic violence in the community, conduct research on why this violence is caused and/or created, and then we can all be part of the solution.”
Vice Chair Person for the Multi Disciplinary Task Force (MDT) and Strong Victim’s Advocate Ipu Avegalio Lefiti is demanding that the Acting Director of DYWA publicly apologize to victims of domestic violence and victim’s advocates.
Mrs Lefiti, who was furious about this specific comment, told Samoa News that these were insensitive comments. “How dare he make such reckless and insensitive comments, as the Acting Director…. is he not supposed to protect WOMEN and YOUTH from these types of insults? Through promoting his programs he has embarrassed degraded and has made a mockery out of all women.”
Mrs Lefiti told Samoa News that this is the type of attitude “we as advocates against DV are trying to fight against. Ignorant attitudes that make a laughing joke of women and the very private, personal struggles and tragedies they are up against…these can be women who are fighting against breast cancer, survivors of family violence, mental illness, widows, unemployed etc.”
She further stated that she’s outraged and horrified to see the ugly pedestal Pa’u has just placed all victimized and traumatized women.
“We the women and advocates against Domestic Violence demand that you make a public apology for your insult,” she said, and added, “Your insult has cut us all very deeply. Every husband on this island from the Governor’s office, church pulpit on down, should be humiliated at how their women folks have just been painted.”
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