After the two weeks State of Emergency as declared by the government of Samoa from 21st March to 3rd April 2020 to combat the spread of COVID-19, the number of callers to SVSG’s toll free Help Line number tell a story.
A steady increase in Help Line callers had been recorded, which implies a community that is slowly feeling the economic and social cruches of the pandemic measures.
There is a clear relationship between the uncertainty of the pandemic on people’s lives and livelihood; and the steady increase in Help Line callers as noted.
At the Campus of Hope, 5 mothers and a total of 16 children were fed, clothed and provided temporary shelter by SVSG during this two weeks period. They were sheltered in isolation at the Campus training centre away from the children’s dormitories. There were 9 children age 1 month – 1 year (4 boys and 5 girls); and 7 children age 1 – 8 years old (4 boys and 3 girls). All of these mothers and their children were victims of domestic violence. They were able to reach out for assistance through the Help Line.
As people have lost jobs or have lost access to employment, domestic violence and the need for welfare support have increased.
There were 21 domestic violence cases reported through the Help Line as a result of distress between couples due to loss of employment, and the inability to support the family’s daily needs. Being in close proximity to each other 24/7 due to the lockdown and the loss of employment had further fuelled tensions and arguments between couples.
Fifteen other cases called in for welfare assistance as the tension from being without a job had taken its toll, especially on the underprivileged families. Two of these cases have been complaints against people stealing others livelihood out of hunger.
According to the President Siliniu Lina Chang, “SVSG will remain on the alert to respond to our people’s call for assistance while providing counseling support, where relevant via the Help Line. At the same time, we will also monitor the interesting dynamics that are definitely contributing to violent tensions in the home.”
This virtual connection and the Response mechanism we have in place to address gender based violence during the COVID-19 crisis are all made possible through the financial support from the Spotlight Initiative (UNDP) here in Samoa.
In whatever situation you are in, know that you are not alone; SVSG is always here for you. Call us on the tool free Help Line number 800-7874