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Gov says laws place unfair blame for underage sex

Gov. Togiola Tulafono says the government is looking into current laws which place full blame on males having sex with girls under 18-years of age, while not looking at the underage females who willingly agree to such acts.

The governor’s comment on his radio program two weekends ago came up after a female caller complained about students having to arrive early at school while it’s not yet daylight, because some school buses pick them up so early.

The caller said she suspects that this is another reason there are problems with teen age girls, and then the government ends up blaming the parents.

Togiola thanked the caller for raising this important issue, which he says the government takes very seriously. He then pointed to the current law, which lays full blame on the male or boy who has sex with the underage girl, but the girl is not punished for her free choice of having underage sex.

The governor made it clear that it’s not his intention to blame underage girls, saying that all those who are under 18 years of age should get equal protection under the law.

An advocate for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, Mrs. Ipu A. Lefiti was asked by Samoa News for her reaction and comments to the governor’s statement on his radio program.

“Statutory rape, is statutory rape. It is the law and must be NON-NEGOTIABLE,” Lefiti responded Friday night.  “The burden of responsibility falls on the adult to leave, walk away or not even entertain the idea.”

“What seems to be the avenue of escape is to blame it on the underage person as being consensual. Because they are young and immature, they are easy to seduce and made fools of," she said. "No-one has the right to rape a prostitute, or a promiscuous person of any age."

Lefiti went on to say "Just look at the statutory rapists trafficked into the court rooms. Who are they? Educators, men of the cloth, fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, mothers’ lovers, aunties. All of them ‘God fearing people’ who hold roles of responsibility and community trust," she said.

"If this is the kind of world that is waiting for our children before the age of 18, we as a community need to do everything within our power to safeguard them. If we do not, WE have failed the current generation and cursed the next.”.

"Children were not born promiscuous - they learned the behavior from adults." she added.

"As for us mothers who keep blaming the underage girls for corrupting our underage boys, our sons have just as much responsibility, family values and knowledge to walk away from temptation and vice-versa.”

"The flip side to this is...I've seen and heard enough wives and mothers speak out against,and blame their daughters and nieces, for seducing their men. I wonder who will they blame for their husbands preferring boys and men?"

"When it comes to females it always seems to be the females fault, no matter what the age. So who is insane here?"

"Instead of us dancing to the perpetrators tune, allow them to pay the penalty for their own decisions," she added.

On his radio program, the governor said he truly believes that a young lady, or underage girl, who was raised properly by the parents, who understands the value of our Christian and Samoan culture, and was counseled accordingly, would withstand any pressure to pre martial sex.