The Gagaifo village in Lefaga is taking a step further in the fight against domestic violence, by also imposing a $1,000 fine on women who beat up on their husbands.
The ‘fono a le nu’u’ or council of chiefs recent meeting made the decision, after it emerged that there are wives equally guilty of physical abuse against husbands.
The Gagaifo ‘sui–tamaita’i’ or women’s state representative, Ms. Moli Kolio Su’a, told Newsline Samoa that the council found there was an alarming jump in husband bashing.
“The council realized that violence against the wives are more visible, what we failed to see is the abuse that goes on behind closed doors where the wife is the aggressor,” Su’a explained.
The alarming discovery putting the blame on the woman alarmed the village council enough to extend the reverse punishment to the wives as well.
“There have been serious cases the council became aware of and that it reflected disgracefully on the authority of the matai.”
Su’a added that family couples are taking the council ruling very seriously and they are keeping close watch also on rule breakers.
“Nobody wants to pay a $1,000 fine and it has been effective enough so far to maintain the peace, especially for couples well known in the village for violent quarrels.”
Personally, Su’a confessed she is also struggling with domestic issues in her own family with her brothers and their wives.
She has found relief however in noticing the changes in their family relationships since the village rule came into effect last month.
“No one is above the law so everyone is making sure that there is harmony instead of continuing to face the problem of domestic violence in the community.
“A collective effort carries enough authority to control this problem and it also shows that the community is healthy because its leaders are actively involved.”
Su’a felt it is important to show that the council is being fair by punishing not just the men but the women who also guilty of domestic violence.
“So at the moment, we don’t often hear husband beaters because while some villages have wife beaters, the reality, there are women who are very abusive and are very aggressive and we don’t want that. We don’t want to think it is not ok for man to beat the woman and it is ok for woman to beat the man. This is sad and we need to get rid of this problem.”
Su’a proudly noted that no incidence of family violence has been reported since the threat of being fined was imposed. She hopes that family harmony will continue.