rape and sexual abuse in Samoa, samoa

Righteous Rape

The Samoa Observer interviewed the Chairman of the National Council of Churches and asked for his thoughts on the ‘epidemic of rape and sexual abuse’ in Samoa. His response was printed in the Sunday newspaper and can be read here: http://www.samoaobserver.ws/other/women/8044-bite-them-hard-church-chairman-urges-women

While I think there was truth and helpful insight in some of his remarks, any ‘good’ to be found was overwhelmingly ruined by his counsel for women in abusive situations. I am appalled and saddened that a leader in a position of great influence has chosen to express views which are at best, ignorant and derogatory, and at worst – dangerous for women and children in our country.

An Open Letter to the Chairman of the National Council of Churches.

Dear Chairman,

You are absolutely right. As a Samoan woman – a daughter, a mother, and a teacher – I want to thank you for your wise reflections on the epidemic of rape and sexual abuse crimes in our country. It is inspired leadership like yours which stands as a beacon of light for the men (and women) of your nationwide flock. We must all give thanks, for it is counsel like yours, which guides us in our decision-making when it comes to raping and sexual abusing others. I certainly hope the journalist who interviewed you, did not misquote you, because there’s so many treasured nuggets of wisdom in your interview, things  which I only wish I’d known at various key moments in my life.

Like this one! “The reason why the law is broken so often in Samoa, is because for some, enjoyment was found and the girls have consented for this to happen, then they go and say they were raped.” Oh so true. When I was a high school English teacher, and a fourteen year old student came to me crying because her brother-in-law had raped her, again. And she had told her mother and her mother had slapped her face and told her off for wanting it and causing trouble for her older sister’s marriage.  And this student begged me not to tell anyone, or report it to the police or discuss it with her parents because “my family will beat me and I will have nowhere to go.” At the time, I was sad for her and didn’t know what to say or do to help this young girl. How misguided I was. She was obviously trying to destroy her family. I too, should have slapped her face for wanting to be raped. And perhaps suggested to her parents that they needed to have more family prayers. “Instead of family prayers, the young are out attending basketball and soccer games. This is why such crimes are increasing because parents are not taking the time to nurture their children well.”  Or told her family they needed to focus less on “education, sports and human rights…” because those things were leading them away from the light. Oh, and mobile phones and internet access were also playing a part – encouraging this girl to want sex with her brother-in-law. I’m glad you have identified the cause of the sexual abuse epidemic because you’re so right – if more women were just honest about how much they enjoyed sex with their fathers/brothers/uncles/cousins/abusive-partners and how much they LOVED being forced to have it – then the horrifying rape statistics would virtually, magically disappear.

Or this gem from you is a personal favorite of mine! Women need to fight back …bite them hard; leave a mark…failure to do so could be interpreted as the girl not really resisting and agreeing to sex.” .”  How I wish I’d had enlightened counsel like yours when I was a child. I was seven years old when I was sexually violated by a man much older and much bigger than me. I didn’t fight. Bite. Or scratch. Scream. Or leave any marks. No, I was just frozen. Silly little me! I was foolish enough to believe him when he said that he would kill me if I struggled. Or if I ever told anyone.  I did as I was told and so of course, I misled that man into thinking I was in delightful agreement with his wishes. Don’t worry, I’ve learned an important lesson
from that experience. I have three daughters and when they were only two years old, I made sure they were each trained by ninja assassins so they had black belts in karate and then also carried a ten inch blade and a machine gun at all times. At home, to preschool and to church. You know, so they could fight back and leave a mark in case they were ever attacked. So there would never be any
doubt that their little two year old selves WEREN’T really resisting.

There’s so much informed insight contained in your message, that I encourage everyone, everywhere to read it. Several times over. Read it to your sons so they will have a litany of reasons why it’s okay to rape women. Read it to your daughters so they will understand all the reasons why they will probably be raped one day – and if so, why it will be  their fault.

In conclusion, thank you Chairman for telling us that “I’m not making excuses for men – no man has the right to touch a woman physically, no matter what his reasons are.”

(Even if that reason has been sanctified and justified by the Chairman of the National Council of Churches.)

Sincerely and bitingly yours,

Lani Wendt Young

36 thoughts on “Righteous Rape”

  1. Dear Lani ~ What a smark alec you are, my word! And how confusing you write…first it seemed that you were really appreciating the Nat’l Counsel of Churches opinion and by the machine gun line I realized, not. Here’s my take on it all. The causes for wide-spread rape and incest are several-fold. I feel that perverted teen movies and novels (such as yours look like by their covers) inspire people to walk on the wild side rather than sticking to things they heard in church, hopefully. I did the same in my 20’s and regret every moment, wishing I’d been part of a fellowship church that held me accountable for my actions and preached true purity, like I am now. I don’t attend movies or even have a TV, don’t want that garbage invading my household everyday, yuch!
    The pastor we had when we married (after I was cheated on repeated the 7 years of my first marriage and after my husband lost his first wife to a carwreck), strongly suggested that I not even spank my step-daughter our first year of marriage ‘til we bonded and I could lovingly discipline her…Step parenting is also contributing to these rape problems, sadly…as is pastors who aren’t accessible when families need counsel. Many have come to my husband the 7 ½ years we’ve been here in Samoa when their pastors didn’t have time to counsel or pray with them for special needs, so sad. The first ½ of my life was riddled with perversion but I’m SO thankful I humbled myself and gave Jesus the 2nd half. He has healed so much of the pain, taken the guilt and given me a faithful husband 28 years now!
    Our fellowship has over 2,000 churches worldwide where each pastor strives to help in his city and nation as we do…proclaiming truth and the need for purity in the schools. Proclaiming that alcohol IS a spirit that will control you and numb your conscience to give away major parts of yourself OR to take it from a defenseless young woman. I’m SO thankful that our pastors even have their wives present when they counsel ladies and never ride in the car with a woman alone, as safeguards. We’ve learned that Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour(IPeter 5:8) in these last days. Satan is also causing people worldwide to make bad financial choices like trying to provide for your needs by winning at Bingo…and leaving the children with daddy, uncle or stepdaddy…duh!
    Culture in Samoa affects as well, with young men having to miss church a lot on Sunday morning staying home to do the umu as they become lazy and don’t get up early enough anymore to finish it before church like years ago we’ve heard. We do our best to reach out to young people with Christian rock and reggae music and on outreaches as we plead with them to open their hearts and let Jesus come in and help them let go of all the bad past choices and start fresh with good new ones with His help. And we’ve had success as God is building an army of fresh hamo for him in Samoa.
    You would do well to read (and maybe write like!)some Robin Jones Gunn about teen relationships like my daughter and I have our years here. Surely you’ve plans for your daughters that include joy and a future with no regrets?
    Debbie Ryals, Samoa

    1. Yes Pastors, priests, ministers and Bishops have a god ordained calling to be responsible for their actions. But so do all of their flock we need to be alert and conscious if our actions at all times. I’m so glad Debbie that you have not sinned and lived a life of purity that is an achievement but judging others and self righteousness aren’t Christian values. These perverted, sick individuals who delight in abusing women and children are everywhere in schools in churches in our families. I believe in educating our children so they know it isn’t right for someone to touch your penis or vagina, bad secrets aren’t good secrets. Yes I believe in God I am a born again Christian but for me to show true compassion to others I am open to listening and seeing how I can be a blessing and not tear others down. It sounds as if you support the minister’s view I feel disgusted and disappointed that a man of God would think that women or young girls consented. How can for example Lani your situation a 7 year old child physically fight back a grown adult!!!!! The lack if wisdom is astonishing and he is the chairman of the churches in Samoa. As a parent I am always aware that my children need to understand that stranger danger is a myth these sickos are close very close they know the parents well and build trust enough to make their move. Yes Debbie lead your daughters down the path of purity and godliness but allow them to be compassionate, loving and forgiving and judgemental. We will all stand before the God and be accountable for our actions and it’s the downtrodden that God will comfort and needs us as his servants to also comfort them too 😉 God Bless Lani Thank you for being brave enough to share your heartbreaking story I hope others will be brave enough to share too.

    2. Debbie, it took you till the machine gun to get it? Wow… lol..
      But for sure, Lani. Don’t allow your daughters to go to basketball and soccer games lest they spend the rest of their lives in regret with no joy.
      (Wait. Debbie’s being sarcastic, right?)

    3. Wow Debbie Ryals your ability to detect sarcasm enthralls me. Please teach me how to be as ignorant as you.

    4. Thank you Lani for a wonderful well put letter, well Debbie what do people leart from church?????dont you think that church have done enough? all this fighting and war because of church??? aren’t church supposed to UNITE all mankind not splitting them??? Good for you Debbie you live such a wonderful purity life…the bottom line is RAPE is a RAPE we should stop pointing a finger we should all work together to stop VIOLENCE against women….

    5. Ms Ryals,
      If by ‘smart-aleck’, you mean I know how to use words to critically evaluate another person’s opinion and I am not afraid to say what I think and feel, especially when that person’s opinion is harmful and misleading – then yes, I most certainly am. I’m a sexual abuse survivor which means people who justify and rationalize abuse and rape, make me very angry. I’m also a writer, which means words are my greatest weapon to try and influence, teach and change the way people view these issues. I’m sorry you found my article confusing or misleading. It’s called ‘satire’ – the use of humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. (although it does trouble me that it took you until the machine gun reference before you realized I was being sarcastic…so you must have been in complete agreement before that?!) I agree with you that there are varied reasons why rape/incest/sexual abuse occur and there are many things we all can do to try and prevent them. What is not complicated however, is that these things are a crime and the survivors must not be held responsible in any way for the awful things which have been done to them.
      Religion and religious leaders can have a huge impact on people – especially in Samoa. They can strengthen families and teach us how to better treat others with love, respect and compassion. Unfortunately, many often use so-called “religious principles” to justify subduing women, promoting gender inequality in a marriage and a family, and even shaming and victim blaming rape survivors. I’m wondering where you would classify yourself and your approach to these issues?
      I do appreciate your feedback. It sounds like you haven’t actually read any of my perverted novels. I would be happy to gift you with a complete set of the Telesa Trilogy so you can see for yourself just how much they encourage people to walk on the wild side of life.

      1. I loved how you wrote your letter Lani. I didn’t find it confusing at all. I agree with what you had written.
        My belief is that there is NO EXCUSE for disgusting behaviour of that nature to be inflicted on any female or male…NO EXCUSE!!

  2. Lani – your writing over the last few weeks and sharing of links to other articles about rape and sexual violence – particularly in the Pasifika community has been welcome, and I wanted you to know how much I appreciate you delving into this difficult topic. I have considerd leaving comments many times before this, but personal shame or the inability to be brave enough to applaude your efforts more loudly has held me back, as I am sure it has held others back . . . up until this point. The article you discuss above makes me livid. And in particular the bit about fighting back with physical force – a very unrealistic expectation for most women – I know in my case when our neighbour of 5 years broke into our house when my husband was at work, and pinned me down at knife point and raped me, I sincerely believed that fighting back would get me killed. In fact the only thing I was able to say repeatedly throughout the whole ordeal was “Please God, keep me safe” and “please don’t hurt me, I have children.” over and over again until he finally left me alone. I thought I was going to die. And being as complacent as possible during the whole horrible ordeal was my way of trying to keep myself alive for my family.
    The dialogue around rape and abuse and our approach to coping with these things in society in ways that make it better for women – and here I think particularly about my 3 little daughters – is so crucial to beginning to lessen the impact and frequency of this kind of violence towards women and attitude towards women in general. I printed and saved the article you shared yesterday about 5 ways of opening the dialogue and having the hard and REAL conversations about how to be safe, how to respect one another and how to teach our kids.
    Please know that your thoughts, sharing and making this issue something we all have to face and deal with is admired, appreciated, and applauded (I am sure) by a largely voiceless following, who are slowly being inspired to be brave enough to lend our voices to the discussion. (Just as I was finally moved to write to you today.)
    Thank-you for being a voice.

    1. Kat – I was angry when I wrote that letter, but more than that, I was afraid and even ashamed, about being so honest, particularly about my own experiences. My letter was printed in the Samoa Observer and I knew there would be many people who wouldn’t like it and would prefer that I wasn’t so open (or angry). I’ve been in a panicked, semi-terrified state for most of the day. And then I read your message and I knew I had done the right thing. Your story had me in tears. Thank you for sharing it. Thank you for the support and encouragement. I agree wholeheartedly that we all can benefit when we have these real and hard conversations.

      1. Hi Lani, you did absolutely right and good on you for speaking out. Don’t feel ashamed or even guilty of writing that letter. Don’t worry about the so hierachial status of those kind of people. There is absolutely no point in being appointed a leader if the leader does not lead and in this case, this chairman is absolutely out of his mind for commenting ignorantly and not caring about the issue that is crippling our women, and he needs to hear about his idiotic comments and brought to account for his stupid attitude. I am more than willing to support you all the way if you decide to take this matter further. Maybe write to the PM and voice these concerns to the whole of Parliament. Just let me know, how and what you would like me to do. This has to stop. Our women deserve the love and respect from every male or any one else for that matter. We are not objects of sexual pleasure that can be accessed by who ever when ever they want. All the best and please stay in touch. God protect and guide you all time, much love from me.

      2. Talofa Ms. Young. What an honor for me to read of a young woman who has attempted to grab the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. We all have our weaknesses and strengths, But we wont realize the God given power until we take that step. It grieves me to read the convictions of a person that holds a very powerful and prominent position in the National Council of Churches, dehumanize and render victims of sexual assault, as stupid enablers, sexually promiscuous and who entice their rapists.
        His comments actually took me back 35 years ago. The brother of a woman that I helped while she was being treated in Tripler Army Medical Hosp. picked me up to take to their family dinner. On our way, before I could react, he had driven deep into the fields. While my eyes were darting seeking an escape, he reaches under his seat. Pointing a weapon to my temple, he says “All I have to do is pull the trigger and push you out of the car. No one will ever find you” The greatest fear of all, was that my father and brothers would never know what happened to me, that my elderly father would go to his grave a broken man. I was paralyzed by my love for my father and brothers. Paralyzed by the shame and humiliation of what is happening to me their sister. I sat still while he raped me. It took me years to heal from that trauma to stay away from the edge of insanity and to believe that it was not my fault. To have the deacon make such reckless, irresponsible and ignorant comments took me back to the rape. By God’s Grace,If I wasn’t the strong woman that I am, those comments probably would have pushed me over the edge and into the dark side.
        But I cannot fault him for his ignorance or his lack of .. Nor can I fault his freedom of expression and his beliefs. I truly pray that he never experiences the horror and pain of a father or grandfather who’s beloved daughter or grandchild is sexually violated.
        That is why it takes women like you to rise up and advocate against Sexual violence. To educate and rip away the shroud of death that surrounds us, the shroud forced upon us by men like the deacon. I must also say how grateful I am to read all the supporting and unsupportive comments. What is important is that we are talking, sharing and educating each other of the multiple tragedies, silent pains, traumas and sorrows of being a victim of sexual violence. Denial is lethal, especially when we CHOOSE not to believe.
        No matter how a father and mother faithfully nurtures and protects their beloved daughter or son. When a person CHOOSES to rape them…HE/SHE will rape.
        Contrary to some beliefs, there is never too much information being shared to expose the vileness of rape. It is good to understand the people that perpetuate the insult, that female children and women must physically fight back to prove they are being raped.
        By the Grace of God, there is hope and there is healing beyond violence. Stand tall and continue with your advocacy. Welcome and embrace the risks that WE take as advocates for the love of our people and human kind. Some day I hope to meet you and many others who have chosen to fight against domestic and sexual violence. I am an advocate in American Samoa. Ms. Mitzie Jessop is the Chairwoman and I am the vice chair for the American Samoa Multi-Disciplinary-Team against Family Violence (MDT).
        Fear is not of the Lord… but I am ever grateful that I can tremble before Him who has placed me on this path.
        Ia manuia lava oe

      3. I appreciate so much, your adding your voice, experience and insight to this issue. Its very humbling for me to hear from those like yourself who literally work on ‘the front lines’, offering support an advocacy for those women and children who are survivors of abuse and rape. Thank you for sharing your own story. I believe and I have witnessed, time and again, how empowering it can be for others when one person is strong enough to share their survivor story. It helps give us all a voice. It lets us know that its alright to talk about it and to be vocal and fierce about working for change.

    2. You have my utmost respect and gratitude…for your heart and for your head. Having the ability and the intelligence to be able to accumulate such a good piece of writing that is witty, straight to the point, powerful, challenging, informative, spirit filled and heart felt! I am proud that my wife and I are not alone in this world when it comes to ignorant people out there with their views on women, violence, culture and human nature – and how much they make us sick to our stomachs!
      You honestly rock sis – and thank you for sharing your gift of words!

    3. Hi Kat,

      Your words describe an experience that I would not wish on any person enemy or not. My eyes welled up with tears reading your response to Lani’s expose on the complete failure and embarrassment of ‘Samoan Leadership’. Tears reading about your ordeal, your mental and spiritual plea for mercy from God to spare you the pain of leaving your children in this world without the love, the care and the nurture and the guidance that (speaking as a dad) can only come from mothers. The anguish that was present at the time, and in the time following (and I struggle to even write it) your rape by this pasifika individual. The ensuing weeks, months and possibly years that it takes to heal from such a barbaric and despicable act that is now seen as an epidemic in Samoa. First I just wanted to say you moved my heart and spirit completely, your words are meaningful and valued that it will guide me as a parent to discuss safety with my children as well as respect for girls and women when speaking with my boys with a lot more purpose. I will speak to my children about justice and equality, I will also embed into my children principles of natural justice, and expose such leaders as Deacon Kasiano as wolves in sheeps clothing.
      You are the best Kat, thank your strength, thank you for the truth.

      Secondly, I would like to just make one point on Deacon Kasiano’s point regarding the deterioration of Christian values because of globalisation, human rights etc. What an incredibly naïve and ignorant statement to make! 68% of pacific in NZ continue to attend or affiliate with church or Christian values or views, and in my view and experience most of the perpetrators were church goers, attendee’s, affiliates. There is an incredibly blindness in our leadership on these matters and it is the blindness that perpetuates the practice. How about Jesus’ words;

      “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

      As was pointed out so eloquently by Lani, where is the justice? When victims are further victimised and perpetrators get the support of his excellency Deacon Kasiano who blames everything and everybody else and weakly asserts that if the church were more involved as in the old days however completely glazes over the fact that both laws he quotes (on men) indicates that men have been acting in this way in Samoa since the ‘old days’ and that the solution was to hide the children on church grounds. Great! Children are now safe????? All children?????? Problem solved????? HELL NO! Incredulous to believe such a poorly thought out response, and even poorer premise. Step down and put someone in who ACTUALLY CARES.

      Norman Mene-Vaele.

  3. Good on you Lani, I am so tired of people like Debbie placing the blame for rape everywhere, but where it really lies. With the rapist. At the same time all of us, live in social contexts that are deeply permissive of rape even though on the surface it may not seem like it. Victim blaming is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  4. It’s unfortunate that such counsel to bite as hard as you can is even considered counsel or advice at all. Instead of teaching our young men to bridal their passions you’re allowing them to release it with the consequence of being bitten. Instead of counseling our young women to dress modestly your advice is to bite hard. The truth lies in our homes. Whether you believe in God or not, Samoans are founded upon the belief that the family unit stands as one. So if a daughter comes with a concern of being raped she shouldn’t be slapped or disciplined but should be taken seriously to the extent of finding out the truth whether you want to believe it or not. As a parent it is our duty to our children that we protect them from harm and when harmed! I’m not saying pull out a shot gun and go hunting, but let the perpetrator know you love your daughter or son enough to trust them for what they say. When you teach love and forgiveness in the home it’s not a form of weakness to forgive, but if you ignore and let go, your children will never trust you therefore will never trust anyone else for that matter. Rape is an action of neglect. No young man sits in his home reading a book or going to church or saying his prayers or studying his homework or going to work, ever comes home and thinks “today I want to rape someone!” It is not a girls fault that she is raped. If anything it’s his parents fault or his guardian for allowing those thoughts to ever enter his mind. If he were doing yard work after school or practicing an instrument he would never have time to idle his thoughts and wander about what love is. Joseph Smith Jr once said teach them correct principles so they may govern themselves. Be the parent, be a parent, love your children enough to build trust not hate.

  5. Thank you Lani, and to those who have shared their experiences. I’m moved by your bravery and unapologetic stance; these things need to be said. Well done.

  6. Mrs. Lani Wendt Young,
    I once attended a “Healing Seminar” where there must have been about 30 women. I was the sole male participant. What was revealing to me was the fact that not only did these women suffer unspeakable acts from their male counterparts, but that every single one of these women, 100%! were survivors. Needless to say, I was so ashamed, sorry and apologetic to be the only one present representing my “brethren”. This issue is of course prevalent and widespread. Not isolated. Interestingly, attitudes and beliefs where institutions of faith dominate seem to coincide. The middle east is an extreme example where women are second class, treated as property and killed by their own for a perceived slight or transgression. All in the name of god, in this case Allah. I once asked a manager of a shelter for abused women, where the majority of her clients hailed from. Not surprisingly she said the majority were from where a large “faith-based” community existed. In discussion with an elderly African-American acquaintance who grew up in the Jim Crow south, I mentioned how in many movies the ministers of black churches are depicted as overtly sexist pastors. He concurred that “that’s how it was. When they said they were coming by to home visit, it was assumed by everybody, that they were coming for more than a meal.” Too much abuse is being handled “in house” to protect the reputation of the church’s hierarchy and institution itself.
    Thanks for using your anger positively. A wise man (maybe a woman said it) once said “In the fight between justice and evil, taking a neutral stance and being indifferent is the same as siding with evil.” Take courage and never give up, no matter what.

  7. Hi Lani, I was soooooo angry when I read the article in the Samoan Observer that your post was about. I was in and out of meetings all day yesterday & I had to stop reading because I could feel myself getting worked up about it and didn’t want to turn up to my meetings looking like I wanted to fasi my suppliers lol!
    I applaud you for bringing this subject matter to the light and for exposing what this Chairman of the National Churches in Samoa had to say. I showed it to my father and he was appalled by the whole thing and that as you’ve said – “that a leader in a position of great influence has chosen to express views which are at best, ignorant and derogatory, and at worst – dangerous for women and children in our country”
    When I was 18 or 19 I was VERY lucky to escape being raped but not before being pinned down, punched in the face & head, hair pulled, slapped and choked. Did I ask for it? No! Did I enjoy it? Hell no! The chairman is either deluded or making excuses for rapists and sadly many of the abusers are men in positions of power within the church. Anyone who says a woman asks for it – please go and uppercut yourself!

  8. Hi Lani, I was so angry and upset when I read the article in the Samoan Observer. Seriously! I am appalled at what this Chairman of the National Churches had to say. Grrrrr!!! An ignorant man. Thank you Lani for speaking out. I applaud your bravery. Stay strong!

  9. Lani, I am neither Samoan nor male. But I have long been an activist for human rights. While I know you don’t need my approval or support, I just wanted to tell you how utterly awesome you are. And how brave.

    Some of the responses here just indicate how brave you are. It is hard enough for any woman to speak up as you have done, but there are certain cultures where it is made even harder. And I respect and admire you immensely for what you have done.

    For what little it is worth, I want to say that you, and any other survivor speaking out about their experiences, will have my undying support.

    This article goes to show we have a lot of work to do on our religious leaders, whose attitudes are too often archaic and misogynist.

  10. Nga mihi mahana ki a koe Lani. Excellent to have this important discussion provoked by your brave writing. Kia kaha kia manawanui. Society needs to face up to and challenge its ugly and harmful secrets….not just in Aotearoa but worldwide.

  11. Malo malo Lani! Well said. Reminds me of the posters and billboards I saw all around in Samoa along the sides of the roads about 4 years ago when there was a huge campaign. The posters said “Say NO to rape”. Say what?!!? As if anyone says YES to rape!! Good for you for speaking out. You’re brave and amazing, and the women and girls of Samoa need women like you. Alofa tele xxx

  12. Dear Lani,
    I too, am neither Samoan, or a male, but I do want to applaud you for your bravery in speaking honestly and openly about a very difficult topic. No matter our race, or even our gender, we are all the same. We are all connected, and acts of violence against women affect our male counterparts as well. This issue has been too long subdued, so I commend you for taking a stand and using your words so strikingly to fight back against the oppressors with your “ninja” skills. We are thought of as the “weaker sex” because we are female, but I see us as strong. Strong because we have endured such violation, disrespect, and disregard for our gifts, yet we are still here standing tall. We need to call out these backwards paradigms and shed light on these harmful beliefs because this not only harms women, but our future men as well. Teaching our daughters that they should live in fear of being raped or that they deserved it, or our sons that they have the right to attack their sisters/cousins/friends will only continue to perpetuate a cycle of violence and unrest. I appreciate your bringing to light the misguided testimony from the Chairman because those in power hold the highest responsibility to emulate and reflect justice, acceptance, and love.
    Keep up all of your hard work with this issue. Women all over the world need to unite to end these violations against our bodies, minds, and spirits. The chairman suggests arming ourselves, as if we should always live in a state of defense. How would that look if we did? If every woman was able to defend herself with a weapon or mad-karate-skills, would they still take advantage of us? I think that the point should be, why must it be one or the other? Why should one always be in competition to rule over the other? What is going on in society that we cannot just live in peace?
    Thank you for getting me to rethink these issues and stirring a conversation that is sorely needed. I too, was a victim of abuse by my stepfather (twice because I had two stepfathers), and do not want the same world for my daughter. Mahalo nui.

  13. I didn’t even have to read the enire article to know it was stupid. Well written Lani. Hey, I was wondering about your birthday. My class is writing a biography of you (famous Samoan writers), and they are so frustrated they can’t find your birthday. BTW, they cried when they read the story of Big Son. lol. You’re so blessed. Thank you for being a voice for many. ❤ ALOFAS 🙂

  14. Oh so sorry Lani, I forgot the thread was actually part of your original story and was overtaken by passion and righteous anger! Lol. You’re a gem, a rare gem, thank you so much for breathing life into this very important issue. For many voices as have been highlighted in above posts speak of finding their voices through your satirical treatment of the Deacons unchristian, patronising and disgustingly unsophisticated opinions which need far more intelligent responses. My hope would be that your words continue to provide a platform for many, victims, survivors, passionate responders, believers of justice, believers of equality, lovers of a truly righteous and loving God, those interested in Samoa being a place of safety, hope and love, could find a voice for social policies and legislation on such matters in Samoa to change. The air thick with denial and as one other commentator stated ‘misogynist elitism’ protecting the interests of the few.

  15. Thank you Lani for this post. I am 22 years of age and am too recently a victim of rape in Samoa, in fact for my case i was pursuing a journey in being a Missionary and so was He (the man who raped me). When facing him about what he did – he told me that God told him I was meant to be his wife and so out of ‘love’ for me he couldn’t help but come into my fale (that contained 5 other missionary girls) and show me his ‘love’. For him nailing someone down and covering there mouth and nose so they could not breath then going on to rapping them while he watched them cry was showing ‘love’. I could not leave any marks on him to prove he did that to me because I was in so much shock, pain and shame. But he did leave marks on me. Bruises on my lips to be exact. Yet no one believed me. Until the witnesses started stepping forward and we later found out that he had done this to a 14 year old girl one year ago. Then of course his family and village came to my home and did the whole traditional Samoan forgiveness procedure that acknowledged what He did. I like how you said your husband and children are the ones who have supported you the most. Im blessed enough to say I have such an amazing family that all of them stuck by me with no doubt I just want you to know it hurt so much when i read that article that the national religious leader wrote. it hurt because he couldn’t understand that there was nothing i could do to harm him. I wish he could have switched spirits for a moment. I wish i could have stopped that man from what he did. I wish.

    Just want to say thank you. For being truthful and leading the way for girls like me on a very scary judgemental road.

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