“WE NEED A PROGRESSIVE LEADER AT DYWA”
My name is Jennifer Smith, and I am one of the individuals behind the petition to reassign Mr. Pa'u Roy Ausage. There has been some misunderstanding in the community that I feel responsible to clarify. Before I explain the motive behind the petition, I want to make a public apology to Mrs. Ipu Lefiti.
I had a visit from this strong, supportive woman this afternoon, who informed me that there are rumors spreading that she is the source of the petition. I want to put the record straight that she did not originate this petition. We have never used her name, and it was never our intention for the petition to be associated with her. I am saddened to think that these rumors may hurt the wonderful work she does for victims of domestic violence here in our territory. I hope the public can understand and can put a stop to the rumors now.
The petition to reassign Mr. Ausage within the government was created because we were very concerned by the message in Mr. Ausage's words. Many of us contacted Mr. Ausage directly through his public email address. Unfortunately, we were unsatisfied with the responses given. Even in his public apologies, the same point of view continued to be raised: that it is a woman's responsibility to look good to make sure that domestic violence does not occur. Any way you put this, this point of view is wrong.
It wrongly places blame on the victim of violence. Unfortunately, in our society many people believe that it is, in fact, the woman's responsibility to maintain her looks for this purpose. Mr. Ausage himself says that women he surveyed believe this. The Department of Youth and Women's Affairs needs a leader who is progressive in his or her thinking, a leader who realizes that we do not blame the victim.
In our reading of Mr. Ausage's comments, he continues to imply the opposite. The leader of this department needs to be sending a different message. The leader of this department should be educating women that if a man cheats on or hurts them, that was the man's choice, not the woman's responsibility.
As citizens, residents, and tax-payers, we wanted our voices to be heard. In the 21st century, an online petition seemed to be a great way to make that happen. Through Facebook and email, we would be able to spread the word to many of our friends and acquaintances, who could then further spread the word. A petition gives the public an opportunity to voice an opinion.
That was our purpose: to give the public a chance to agree with us, if they chose. Along with a link to the petition, we sent a letter explaining our concerns. The letter gave links to both Samoa News articles which quoted Mr. Ausage. We wanted to make sure anyone who signed the petition was informed of the issue in the press. We have gathered 49 signatures from on- and off-island. More importantly, we have raised awareness about our attitudes toward the causes of domestic violence. People are out there talking about it. That is an accomplishment.
I do not know Mr. Pa'u Roy Ausage personally. I am not making a judgement about his character or work ethic. I do not have a personal vendetta against him, as has also been suggested by rumors. I simply believe his message to women is destructive, and I do not think he should be at the head of the Department of Youth and Women's Affairs. This petition asks for him to be reassigned within the government so that his strengths can be best put to use for the people of our territory.
In hindsight, I should have been more public with my own identity. To be honest, we used a group name for the petition to protect ourselves from the exact kind of rumors that are now, unfortunately, spreading about Mrs. Ipu Lefiti. Had I realized this would have happened, I would have openly spoken out at the beginning.
Again, I would like to express my apology to her for any harm we have done. The only intention in any of this was to confront an archaic belief and to take a stand against a public official who is perpetuating it.
THE NEW COMMENTS PROCESS
To make comments, you will need to register. You can register under your real name or use a 'screen' name. This way, people will be able to follow comments and make comments back and forth to each other. If you choose to use a 'screen name' no one will know your true identity. In either case, no email addresses will be available to anyone. It is an automated process. If you have questions, email: email@example.com
You currently are not logged in, please LOGIN to post comments.