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.
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