Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) is joining the community and the law and justice sectors this week in celebrating small victories being made, in advocating for social justice for the survivors of gender based violence in Samoa.
The victories, from SVSG’s perspective, range from the successful completion of the ‘Rise Up’ retreat of young women survivors who have formed the feminist movement to fight against sexual violence in Samoa; to playing host to the community conversation by civil society actors and advocates on Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls as part of the Spotlight Initiative; to the one-on-one consultation with the relevant Ministry on SVSG’s report to the Human Rights Council as part of Samoa’s Third Universal Periodic Review (UPR); to being part of the Gender Empowerment Disability Program by one of its partners.
Culminating the small victories being celebrated this week was the official launching by the Ministry of Women, Community & Social Development, of the National Child Care & Protection Policy, the first for the children of Samoa. As a child safe organization, this calls for a celebration, given years of lobbying for policies and legislations specifically to govern work for children. Thank you UNICEF Pacific for seeing to it that Samoa’s child protection system is based on communities, families and the Fa’aSamoa.
The greatest victory this week for SVSG was the guilty verdict handed down by the Supreme Court to a 62 year old father who committed rape and sexual connection to a 15 year old girl. The child has been under SVSG’s shelter care since 2019. The offender has been slapped with a 12 years and 4 months imprisonment sentence, which is nothing compared to years of trauma this child will go through, before recovering.
And this is why SVSG existed; the reason behind the continuous lobbying and adovocacy for relevant policies and legislations in place; and why we are grateful this week of the small advocacy victories.
But life as a Response Service Provider continues. SVSG’s 800-7874 Help Line is still ringing day and night from people who need help during violent situations, from people who are still in financial distress from the impact of COVID-19 and required basic necessities such as food, clothing and utilities. “For this, we are greatful of the partnership with the UNDP through the Spotlight Initiative Project, which enabled SVSG to scale up delivery of GBV responsive services for women, children and vulnerable groups in the context of the COVID-19.” Siliniu Lina Chang, SVSG President