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New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research Project

Meet the Researcher

Photo of Mercy Ah Siu-MalikoDr Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko is a Lecturer at Piula Theological College and a Research Affiliate at the Centre for Theology and Public Issues. During 2017-2018 she was lead researcher for the Fola le ta’ui a le Atua: Rolling Out the Mat of Scripture project funded by the New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) on church responses to violence against women in Samoa.

Mercy was born and raised in Samoa before moving to Auckland in the 1980s. She has degrees in Arts (BA Auckland, 1993) and Theology (BTh Auckland, 1995; MTh Pacific Theological College, 1998; PhD Otago, 2015). She has lectured in Theology at Piula College (1999-2002), Sociology at National University of Samoa (2002-2004), and Women’s Studies at the Pacific Theological College (part-time, 2005-2006).

She previously co-ordinated the WEAVERS project on ‘The Church and Violence Against Women’ for the Women in Theological Education for the South Pacific Association of Theological Schools (2005-2006), and worked at the Centre for Samoa Studies at NUS (2008), and as a librarian and administrator at Piula Theological College (2008-2011).

In 2016 she was a Harold Turner Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Otago, and wrote Christian Faith and Family Violence: A Report for Samoan Communities in New Zealand (2016). In 2017 she was appointed as Lecturer at Piula Theological College.

As the lead researcher, Mercy is supported by a wider project team: Dr Melanie Beres (University of Otago), Dr Caroline Blyth (University of Auckland), Dr Ramona Boodoosingh (National University of Samoa), and Prof David Tombs (University of Otago).

View the WEAVERS project: The Church and Violence Against Women (PDF)

View the project: Christian Faith and Family Violence: A Report for Samoan Communities in New Zealand

Overview

The prevalence of violence against women (VAW) in Samoa is indicated in the 2017 Samoan National Family Safety Study (NFSS), which indicates that 60 per cent of women have experienced domestic violence. Furthermore, 90 per cent of children and 100 per cent of persons with disabilities surveyed said they have experienced some sort of violence and abuse. A 2010 Samoan Government Report stated that that churches should ‘be heavily involved in addressing violence against women’.

Ninety-nine percent of the population identify as Christian, and the churches significant moral authority and social leadership. However, despite the government’s recommendation and national prevention initiatives the churches have been largely silent and inactive on VAW prevention.

This research collaboration involves the creation of a research briefing to address VAW against women in Samoa as a challenge for the churches, followed by two components which proceed in parallel:

Research interviews: What is stopping the church from being more actively involved in prevention initiatives? This includes: What level of church support is there for GBV prevention initiatives? What are the church norms and structures which might be supporting violence?)

Development of bible study resources: in order to support a deeper conversation about GBV within Samoan church communities the project is developing a series of group bible studies to explore family relationships and GBV violence.

Read more...

Project Publications

Research briefing

Ramona Boodoosingh, Melanie Beres, and David Tombs, ‘Research briefing: Violence against women in Samoa’ Women’s Studies Journal (December 2018) 32: 1-2, pp. 33-56.
http://hdl.handle.net/10523/9001

Contextual Bible Studies

Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko, Tatala le Ta’ui a le Atua | Rolling Out the Fine Mat of Scripture. Dunedin: Centre for Theology and Public Issues, University of Otago, 2019.
http://hdl.handle.net/10523/9604

Journal articles

Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko, ‘Responding to Domestic Violence in Samoa through Enactment of Agatausili (Core Values)’ Journal of the Arts Faculty of the National University of Samoa (December 2018) 4, pp. 93-114.
https://www.nus.edu.ws/s/files/JAFNUS_2018.pdf

Caroline Blyth, ‘Research report: ‘Tatala le ta’ui le Atua: Rolling out the fine mat of scripture’ Women’s Studies Journal (December 2018) 32: 1-2, pp.57-62.
http://wsanz.org.nz/journal/docs/WSJNZ32Blyth57-62.pdf

Project Report

Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko, Melanie Beres, Caroline Blyth, Ramona Boodoosingh, Tess Patterson and David Tombs, Church Responses to Gender-Based Violence Against Women in Samoa. Auckland: New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research, 2019.
http://hdl.handle.net/10523/9657

Key Project Events

5–7 September 2017. Dunedin.
‘Church Responses to Violence Against Women in Samoa: Identifying the Issues and Developing a Transformative Response’

15–19 March 2018. Piula and Apia.
‘Transforming Church Responses to Gender Based Violence against Women in Samoa’

12–13 April 2018. Suva.
‘Churches Tackling Gender-Based Violence: Preventing Violence, Reporting Perpetrators, Restoring Survivors’

7–11 June 2018. Auckland.
‘Church Responses to Gender Violence in Samoa’

Media coverage

22 November 2018.
Sapeer Mayron, ‘Churches still in denial, says Theologian’, Samoa Observer.

8 September 2018
T. Lesatele, ’Churches Must Change to Fight Violence Against Women. Newsline Samoa’, Newsline Samoa.

16 March 2018, Samoa TV1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R9Dh7bckU4

Recognition

The project is featured as a case study in good practice in How to collaborate with Pacific Churches for development research (2018) by the Research Development Impact Network (RDI Network).

Read How to Collaborate with Pacific Churchs: Our latest Guide on the RDI Network website

Further links

29 November 2018. ‘Domestic Abuse Resources Welcomed by Churches’ Otago Humanities Blog

Project funding

The project was funded by New Zealand Institute for Pacific Research (NZIPR) with support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Contact information

Dr Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko
Email mercy.maliko@otago.ac.nz

Prof David Tombs
Email david.tombs@otago.ac.nz