Interview with Ruth Maetala, Solomon Islands’ Survivor and Advocate of young women’s rights

Interview with Ruth Maetala, Solomon Islands’ Survivor and Advocate of young women’s rights

posted on: January 15, 2018

This incredible lady is one you need to meet and know about.

Advocate.

Mentor.

Mother.

Grandmother.

Pastor’s wife at Landmark United Pentecostal Church in Honiara, Solomon Islands

Minister- National ladies president for United Pentecostal Church of Solomon Islands

Author.

She has been to New York presenting the Solomon Islands Status of Women Report in 2010.

She has stood Representing women at regional meetings speaking to ministers of twenty four governments in September 2017.

Some of the most influential people are the ones we never hear about because they are so busy doing their life’s calling. This strong lady helps work on submissions to the United Nations to improve laws on protection for women, children and families. I wanted to highlight this lady, a native to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific region. Read her story and show her some love. God bless you all. 

Where are you located? I live in Solomon Islands, a small nation in the South Pacific region.

How long have you been here? Since birth in 1970

What is your occupation? I am a development consultant

Who do you work with mainly? I ran a small professional consultant business called “Solomon Islands Support Services & Technical Assistance (SISSTA)” I mainly work with and for women, aid donors and government ministries working for women in Solomon Islands and the South Pacific.

We had armed conflict in 1998-2000 in that period two ethnic tribes used illegal arms in combat. I was part of the women for peace campaign. Our WFP group prayed every Monday and brought food to militants at the bunkers.

That period increased trafficking of young girls to logging camps. The economy was affected badly. So parents and relatives sold young girls as young as thirteen to Asian business men.

There was no protection for women during that time, poverty was at its highest. There was a breakdown of law and order.

What words do you use to describe the violence you have experienced (“rape,” “sexual assault”)?  

Inhumane. Rape & any form of sexual assault takes away a person’s dignity. It makes one feel worthless and has no value.


Concerning this trauma, what do you think is important for people to know?
It is important to know that rape traumatizes women and small children when this happens. It is important to know when the victim is ready to confront the issue and even support the victim when she/he does not want to face one’s offender.


How has this experience impacted you?It impacted me in ways I did not foresee. I did not know how to love a person. I became cold and not loving even if I had a big smile all the time.


What services/resources/people helped you in your healing?I did a course on human rights and learnt that as a human being I have some rights that God has given me which no one can take away and one of the rights include the dignity of persons.

How do you, now help others heal? 

I speak for others – I speak for women victims of rape and domestic violence.

Rape victims in the Solomon Islands do not come out, many choose to continue with life and forget their experiences.

I do speak out in conferences and work on submissions to the United Nations to improve our laws on protection for women, children and families. Women campaign for peace and human rights. I was leading the national council of women and we spoke against abuse and prostitution and child trafficking.

Helping others to heal – I take their case to Jesus in prayer. I became a prayer warrior because of this. We do not have institutions and services to provide professional counseling so we have a lot of opportunities to provide a safe prayer space for women.

Currently, I am working on a project called Mona and the Peace child. It’s a short piece but I am working on expanding it. It’s a Christian novel based on true history of how some tribes came to know Jesus through missionary work set in the year 1800.


What were the barriers to you coming forward?My barriers were culture and religion. Culture shames women if they experience any form of sexual violence and domestic violence. Religion often looks down on one who openly talks about violence and abuse because it promotes the righteousness of Christ. For example, when I first came into the church I fear everyone and everything because I was looking for love which I did not experience as a teenager and as a young married woman. But I did not find it in church either because when I started to talk about myself to an elderly saint, I was told not to say anything to shame the church. I held back my story till now.

How did salvation and religion play a part in your life? I was brought to the truth in 1995 through the missionary work of Rev. Roscoe and Mary Seay. I was already teaching Sunday school at an evangelical church but wanted more. Sister Seat was my neighbour and build a friendship I didn’t have with anyone else…her love for God and people drew me towards Jesus and the Oneness doctrine. In October I accepted the baptism in Jesus name. In the same month, I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost while praying over Sunday school material with Sister Seay and Sister Sarah Prince. It was the beginning of my healing journey. I was also influenced by Sister La Joyce Martin’s books and Sister Nona Friedman’s writings which built my faith in this God.


What suggestions do you have to make it safer for survivors to come forward?  Survivors need to know someone loves them genuinely, and safe space is available to talk about themselves, they need to know how to deal with themselves first and how to communicate with other people around them especially a husband who is an immediate neighbor.

Is there a certain scripture or quote you live by ? Yes – Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”. This is my strength to my long years of struggling to be free from the truth of living with the guilt of sexual violence for more than twenty years. This word gives me worth. It frees my mind and validates my dignity.

 My book is out of print.

If there was anything you could tell someone today that might be in a difficult situation, what would you say? Learn about yourself, what reminds you of the situation, confront it head on with confidence in Jesus. For years I have a spare room at home where abused women can be sheltered for a night or two. I tell them to find what makes them fear, pray for boldness to confront and also love to bear it as it comes. It sounds easy but it is very hard but in my experience counselors can do so much for a hurting person but only that person can want healing so bad to get it.

Thank you so much!

One thought on “Interview with Ruth Maetala, Solomon Islands’ Survivor and Advocate of young women’s rights

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *