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Facts about gender based violence in American Samoa

While great strides have been made in both Samoa and American Samoa during the past 10 years to deter violence against vulnerable individuals, the criminalization of domestic violence at a level required to recognize its critical danger to society and future generations has yet to be achieved domestic violence is not a crime in itself in either Samoa. At best, it is an aggravating factor to a felony such as assault, homicide, or rape. Considering the fact that the majority of legislation concerning DV has been established only in the last 20 years, even in the most developed countries such as the U.S., it is no wonder that existing laws are simply designed to protect the victim by restraining and controlling the perpetrator, and mediating the situation.

In American Samoa, Title 47, established in 2004, intends to ‘recognize the importance of domestic violence as a serious crime against society and to assure the victim the maximum protection from abuse which the law’ can provide. It defines ‘domestic or family violence’ as physical harm to another family member, placing another family member in fear of harm, or involuntary sexual activity by force. ‘Family members’ include adults and minors who are not related, and there is no stipulation for co-habitation.

Source: THE STATE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN SAMOA AND AMERICAN SAMOA A comparison of two societies sharing a single culture