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UPR: Samoa, 25th Session, 2015

United Nations Human Rights Council

Universal Periodic Review: Samoa

Executive Summary

Drawing on ICAAD’s research, this submission highlights issues of structural discrimination that impact women and girls in Samoa. The research examines Samoa’s compliance with its international human rights obligations on the issue of violence against women and girls.

Structural Discrimination

Structural discrimination occurs when laws, policies, and societal/cultural norms generate outcomes for certain groups because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation. Certain practices in a region or nation may appear to be facially neutral, but in practice, impose significant barriers that disadvantage certain groups in achieving substantial equality. This perpetuates barriers of social exclusion and prevents marginalized groups from fully integrating into the social, economic, and cultural fabric of society.

Violence Against Women and Girls

  1. Systematic Discrimination:
    1. Violence against women is “endemic and pervasive” in Samoa.[i]4% of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 years who have entered into a relationship experienced physical and/or emotional and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner. [ii] Attitudes in Samoan society reflect the depth of the problem: about half of men believe that beating a woman is sometimes justified and 70% of women believe that husbands sometimes have good reason to beat their wives.[iii] According to a 2006 “Samoa Family Health and Safety Study” by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the UNFPA found that 87.7% of women did not seek help for physical abuse, and 72.5% of those did not seek help because they believed physical abuse was normal or not serious.[iv]
    2. Violence against women and girls is also prevalent outside the context of intimate partner violence: one survey reported that 64 percent of female respondents experienced some form of abuse by someone other than their partner. [v]
    3. Rape is underreported because of social attitudes that discourage such reporting. [vi] Spousal rape is not criminalized. [vii]
    4. While the government passed the Family Safety Act, focused on protection orders, the government has yet to enact specific “laws to enforce protection of women from all forms of violence and abuse.”[viii] Cases of domestic violence are covered under the law against common assault.[ix] Law enforcement agencies are reluctant to arrest perpetrators of domestic violence in close-knit communities. [x]

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Great talk! "Dr. Prabhjot Singh is on a mission to makes healthcare more accessible. His “a-ha moment” came as he attended the funeral of one of his patients where he saw the man in context of his life and community, rather than the bare facts included on his chart. Singh realized that this man’s death had been the result of the collective failure of many systems—education, mental health, neighborhood safety, job placement, veteran support. In Dying and Living in the Neighborhood, Singh insists that we must discard our top-down approach to the healthcare system and that regardless of our leadership, the solutions won’t come from our government. We must rebuild our system from the neighborhood up." ... See MoreSee Less

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"Article 25, sub-clause 1 of the Indian Constitution guarantees
that “subject to public order, morality and health,
all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience
and the right to freely to profess, practice and propagate
religion.”38 However, its sub-clause 2 (B) and its corresponding
Explanation II is considered very controversial.
While Explanation I states that the wearing and
carrying of kirpans shall be deemed to be included in
the profession of the Sikh religion. Explanation II in
sub-clause 2 (B) states, “Hindus shall be construed as
including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain
or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious
institutions shall be construed accordingly.”39 This
constitutional provision is very discriminatory, as it connotes
that even as a multi-faith state, India seems to be
concerned about the social welfare of only one religion
(Hinduism) and its religious institutions. The appended
Explanation II effectively groups Sikhs, Buddhists, and
Jains into Hinduism. Explanation II has also led to other
discriminatory laws against these religions, including
the Hindu Succession Act (1956), Hindu Marriage Act
(1955), Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act (1956),
and Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act (1956). These
laws are largely viewed to force legal assimilation of
these religions into Hinduism, rather than recognizing
them as distinct religious identities."
... See MoreSee Less

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