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OP ED: Marriage Bill — little research before being rejected by Senate

The Senate rejected the House bill on Monday, in a vote of 7- 9. The bill needed at least 11 votes to pass.

I was speechless and in awe of the decision that was recklessly made at the' spit of an asp' to condemn our female children who are vulnerable to a life of domestic slavery, sexual rapes, physical and mental abuse.

 Young girls barely out from the bosom of their parents who've been nurturing and teaching them by steps to prepare them for the next level. Girls being thrown into an arena they are mentally, emotionally, and physically unprepared and unfit to undertake.

Being abused by in-laws is a given. What does the 14-year-old bride bring to the family? Not only is she immature, she is uneducated and far from understanding her role. The child becomes a burdensome inconvenience and easy target for abuse.

 The child is at risk of being victimized by the adult family members. She is fair game, easily threatened, coerced and manipulated. She is defenseless.

The senators damned these girls to this type of life at their tender age where there is no growing up, but a life of perseverance and survival by instincts.

 Being a 14-year old immature wife and mother will trump promises of education and employment oppoturnities for her.

The law is spelled out in protecting our children against underage drinking, smoking, doping; and access to adult entertainment in bars, cinemas, gambling etc., are in place.

American Samoa has come a long way in prosecuting, convicting predators, pedophiles and throwing them in jail. 

 Sen. Satele Galu Satele Sr. claims that some parents have given up — “ua fiu matua”... How long do you think a child will tolerate rape and figure out 'there’s something wrong'.

Can a 14-year-old walk out from a marriage when the honeymoon phase is over? Can a 14-year-old divorce an adult who has total mental and physical power over her?

Sen. Fonoti Tafa’ifa Aufata, the lone female senator, said she is very saddened with today’s youngsters, causing many problems. She claims that teenage problems stem from immoral and sexually motivated parental behavior.

Just reading these few comments that had the power to sway the Senate indicated the following to me:

The decision was based on carnal and sexual knowledge instead of for the child’s wellbeing. There was no attempt to even get expert opinions. There was no senator concerned or convicted enough to demand loudly for open or public opinions/ forums from their constituents.

If there was deliberation there was no conscience. It was a bully decision to what? Solve the underage rapes? Sever the parental responsibility we have over our children, time constraints? This bill had lesser value and attention than the going rate on marketing pigs.

 Have the senators forgotten the people’s struggles to save their children from drugs, alcohol, sexual abuse, neglect and sexual predators?

How about mentally challenged 14-year-old girls with the mentality of a 7, 10, or 11-year-old? Do they fall under this marketing strategy?

An afterthought. Are our 14-year-old sons whose sex genitals have way outgrown their young age and maturity, next on the block? They are easy targets for adult female predators. Look at the teachers in the US who preyed on young elementary boys... instead of prosecution, they can now marry these children.

Instead of blaming the youth; being seduced by predators, who breech all age groups with impunity. How can a child stand up against what they don't understand?

Unscrupulous adults who send their children to the streets to sell and be sold, you senators have upped their value on the marriage market and the demand and easy access for children flesh.

An issue raised by senators during the hearing is ''what happens to a female who is 16 years old or younger who becomes pregnant, and the parents of the girl give their consent for the girl to marry the father of her unborn child? Some senators claim this has happened before and will happen again, as parents want to “fa’amama”, or make clean, the young girl by marrying her off to the father of her unborn child.

Senate President Pro Temp Nuanuaoleafeagaiga Saoluaga Nua urged his colleagues to reflect on what the bill will do and to consider that ancestors who fashioned the current law may have had justifiable reason to set the age for marriage at what it is now. Because of underage pregnancies he also urged his colleagues not to pass the bill.

This is 2018. Sex offenders, predators, pedophiles and child sex traffickers have only gotten fatter, smarter in avoiding the law and riper in perversion because of this attitude. It is time to reflect , be educated, and challenge unhealthy current laws.

In my line of work, I’m convinced an alarming increase of underage pregnancy was by premeditated rape. It appears the concerned is to camouflage the rape crime by selling our children to protect the honor of the family, church, culture, and tourism. 

We expect no less from our Senators.

All these concerns should have deployed their staff on a fact finding mission to the one office that provides that info — Office of Vital Statistics.

A pool of professional resources; specialists from Mental Health, DOH-OBGYN, child psychologists, licensed social workers,  DOE counselors, SPED-Special Ed counselors, parents.  We have them, why were they not brought in as witnesses? They could have at least provided an intelligent, informed measuring system on child casualties, risks or potential fatalities.

The Pae Ma Le Auli is working on surveys and petitions as an outreach, to take to the villages. We hope to work with the Samoan Affairs Office to meet its protocol for entering their villages. We also invite any NGO or association that would like to collaborate with us on this matter. It is imperative that we go out to educate our people on this bill and its purpose.

Our people must have a voice on this Health and Quality of Life issue, that will impact our families and communities.

Thank you for the bill introduced by Rep. Fialupe Felila Fiaui Lutu; the House of Representatives who carried it through and to those Senators who voted for H.B. NO. 35-21 "Increase the marrying age for a female from 14 to 18."