A call for Samoan men to take responsibility for their children | Pacific Beat

A call for Samoan men to take responsibility for their children

A call for Samoan men to take responsibility for their children

Updated 15 October 2013, 11:02 AEDT

The death of a baby in Samoa recently has sparked calls for a law to force men to take responsibility for any children they father, whether or not they maintain a relationship with the mother.

A young woman has been charged with infanticide after the body of a child was found on another family's property close to the capital Apia.

Some people are saying a lack of responsibility from fathers makes it difficult for women in this situation to care for their children.

Reverend Mauga Motu, General Secretary Samoa National Council of Churches says the church believes men shouldn't take their responsibility as fathers lightly.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Reverend Mauga Motu, general secretary of Samoa's National Council of Churches

MOTU: We are advising the fathers that they must be aware of this very important part of their lives, because it's their relations with God that we are dealing with and we are concerned about hat relationship, with the father, mother, baby relationship. And so it's a must for every father to look after their child, their expected child, especially from the pregnant mothers, that they must look after them and care for the mother before she gives birth to the new baby, and not give careless reasons to the mothers.
EWART: How difficult though is it to persuade men who obviously feel for whatever reason that they don't need to demonstrate that responsibility, how difficult is it to persuade them to take that on? Does it require a legal enforcement?
MOTU: Yeah it requires a legal enforcement, but first of all they must marry first, this must be the reason why they don't want this pregnant woman to mention the name of the father, because they haven't married yet. So the legal advice for these people as well as the church that they must marry and have a ceremony to place the babies and place the family and there's no other reason behind that to have no concern about the baby, especially the family.
EWART: The situation you describe plainly will be the ideal solution, but surely you have to accept that in certain circumstances, possibly many circumstances, the two parents they may have produced a child but they don't want to be together, it may have been an unwanted pregnancy?
MOTU: Yeah that's right, those are rare problems in Samoa, but it's becoming a problem here in our country, especially the young girls and young boys who are going around and ended up in such pregnancies to happen. It is very sad and very disappointing, especially the concern of the parents as well as the leaders of our country, especially the leaders of the church. We never want unwanted babies, yes, we never want our young girls to go like this. But they must be aware that their parents concern for them is that there must have been a marriage or weddings in the future, yeah.
EWART: Without wanting to pre-judge this particular case that has sparked this debate, in general are we looking really at a situation where the mothers of these children actually need community help and support, rather than necessarily being brought before the courts?
MOTU: Well there's some concern in the communities, there are other organisations who are helping with support, they can seek help from them. So instead of taking the case to the court, there are other organisations, especially the church too, the church is trying to help these young pregnant ladies to come to the parish ministers and talk with them, so that the minister will look after the pregnancy and security for the child that is born. So there is no court case to appear here if the young lady seeks some advice and some help from these special organisations, as well as the church and their parents too.
EWART: And you talked about the need for perhaps legal enforcement as far as responsibility by absentee fathers is concerned. How likely do you think it is that such a law will be brought in by the Samoan government?
MOTU: Well again legal enforcement … if this is the case then the law enforcement must happen. If this is the case that the young ladies and the young boys are not … so there must be a law for enforce a clean baby that is born.
EWART: Is there any suggestion that such a law is under consideration?
MOTU: Well the law is a long way forward, but there are other assistance that young youth can get before any law enforcement is done. I advise our youth and girls and boys to come to terms with the help given by their ministers and their teachers and some advisors, as well as some organisations that I've mentioned before ending up in court.

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