Technology, particularly access to pornography, is one of the factors contributing to the continuous increase of incest in Samoa.
This is according to Auckland University's Sili Mireta Pita, who presented her research thesis on Mata’ifale– Navigating the context of incest in Samoa, in the iv Samoa Conference at the National University of Samoa.
Sili Mireta Pita defined the word mataifale which is eyes in the house.
"Its when you have an affair with a family member but you both live under the same roof or related; she said"
Sili conducted research of the archival records of the ministry of Justice and Courts Administration, examining 76 incest cases filed between 1967 to 2015.
Most of the incest cases were common between fathers and daughters.
Almost 80% of the offenders were married, in contrast to the 90% of the victims who were single or never married.
Between 2002 and 2015, 27 cases were without consent whereas 8 were.
According to Sili one of the Factors contributing to susceptibility of incest was the technology.
"Accessibility to pornography which triggers some offenders, mainly young offenders 18 to 25 to perform sexual acts on their younger siblings" she said.
She also pointed out alcohol , genetic sexual attraction (G.S.A) , and absence of the mother or a trusted adult in the home as some of the factors.
But also included are education, mental health, and isolated childhood
Some families are scared to report incest for fear of ruining their family's reputation.
"Offenders use violence as a threat and so they keep doing this for their own safety .
In conclusion Sili said that the church has a role to play in speaking about this issue and normalising what has always been a taboo topic through training and awareness.
She also encouraged village councils to monitor late night and early morning roamers, and provide somewhere for the drunkards to rest for the night to avoid going home highly intoxicated.
Sili pointed out strengthening of grassroots education to be lead by role models as one of the solutions.
However she concluded by saying the responsibility of solving this problem lies within the families.
"Protection for the family is protection for all ; as the samoan proverb goes – a malu i ‘aiga e malu foi I fafo" she said.
Sili was inspired to conduct research after working as a volunteer for the Samoa Victim Support Group.
Her presentation is part of the iv Samoa Conference which has been underway at the National University of Samoa from the 4th to the 6th of September 2018.
*Joachim is a first year Media and Journalism student of the National Universdity of Samoa.