Earlier today, I began writing an entry about this rape* issue and the follow-on commentary printed in the Observer. But then I remembered where I was and what people here in Samoa are like. This is the same crap that happens over and over again, and wagging my finger at a bunch of chauvinist, decrepit, old men ensures only two things: 1) a tight ass from clenching and 2) a convivial conversation piece for stubborn men like that.
I decided I would save my energy and make sure that the people in my life know how I feel about such happenings.
I have seen, all too often, the dismissive attitudes of those who should care and who should address the problems of incest, rape, assault within their own family groups, circle of friends and their own communities. It’s easy to judge and accuse those people of doing those despicable things, but what about your own backyard?
For me, I will acknowledge that I have family members who were habitually abused. Unsurprisingly it was discovered that, in time, they became abusers themselves. It is embarrassing and awful to admit, but I have memories of at least three relatives trying to groom me. One was a woman.
It took me a long time to accept that it was okay not to like these people and despite the looks of disapproval from other family members – that it was okay not to say hello, kiss or even look at them. God can forgive them. I don’t have to.
With every newspaper article highlighting the depravity of our community, it is so very sad to see that the monsters are usually those in plain sight. It isn’t surprising, but it is just so sad.
These people are in positions of trust and power in family circles. What they lack in conscience, they make up for with the pageantry of deviant charm and illusory characterization of humanity. The dregs of humanity.
No one wants to admit that their own blood can be capable of such monstrosity. I don’t know how many times I have heard these words, “E leai a se aiga e le kupu ai mea faapea” (This sort of thing happens in every family, or, There’s no family that hasn’t been affected by this). This attitude screams denial and is asking me to accept the status quo. Well that’s not good enough for me.
While I can’t change the mindset of old, I can do something about the future.
I made a promise to myself and to all that I hold dear, that I would never tolerate such behaviour. But more importantly, I vow to teach my children the value of another human being and to respect and love one another. It seems a banal vow, but there are horrific examples abound to make me think this is something I cannot leave to chance.
I will affect my own circle and do what I can where I am most effective and where my opinion matters the most. I start with me and mine.