Re-positioning the Experiences and Situation of Single Mothers: Accounts from Samoa

Rochelle Stewart-Withers

Cultural values and societal norms can place a considerable burden on young women to be sexually non-active outside of a marriage, with the understanding that motherhood must occur within marriage. For those who deviate outside what is expected they may find themselves and their children labelled in negative ways and positioned as ‘other’. Yet, some cultural and value based frameworks rather than stigmatising and discriminating against single mothers may also offer a contestable space. With this is mind, this paper draws on qualitative field research undertaken in Samoa in 2002, 2004 and 2006 to illustrate how the cultural framework of fa’asamoa (the Samoan way), ‘āiga (family) and the feagaiga, understood to mean balance within relationships and the brother sister relationship might lend themselves to support single mothers. It is also shown how engaging with cultural concepts such as fa’amagalo (seeking forgiveness) and fa’ailo ga tama (to mark or distinguish a child/accepting the baby) means single mothers are not stigmatised and ostracised as individuals or as a social group.

Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Toksave
March 25, 2021
Published in
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