Samoan legend Lima on charges of assault

Samoa rugby legend Brian Lima faces criminal charges after allegedly assaulting his ex-wife in public last week, leaving her with serious facial injuries.

Lima, 41, who was inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame in 2011, is accused of attacking his wife Sina Retzlaff late last week, the Samoa Observer reported.

In a widely-cited report accompanied by a photograph of Retzlaff with two black eyes and a stitched cut on her nose, the newspaper said Lima had been charged with causing actual bodily harm and being armed with a dangerous weapon.

Lima, who earned 65 Test caps for Samoa and is the only player to have appeared at five Rugby World Cups, had his travel documents seized and was ordered not to contact Retzlaff, the Observer reported.

Retzlaff, who was divorced from Lima two years ago, told the newspaper that domestic violence was a universal problem.

“It doesn’t have any boundaries in terms of culture or religion, it can happen to anyone and I believe it does happen to women from all walks of life,” she said.

A United Nations survey in 2010 found 46 percent of women in Samoa reported suffering from physical or sexual abuse when in a relationship.

It said men were generally regarded as the head of the household in Samoa and often wielded domestic power, with women reluctant to complain to authorities about abuse.

Samoan journalist Cherelle Jackson said attitudes had changed in recent years as issues such as domestic violence were increasingly discussed on social media.

Jackson recently staged an online campaign, “16 Days of Activism”, which encouraged survivors of domestic violence to share their stories.

“The fact that incidences of domestic violences are now widely reported in the mainstream media in Samoa means that it is slowly becoming a behaviour that can no longer take the shield of cultural appropriateness,” she said.

“The most recent case involving a high profile rugby player is extremely unfortunate, but at the same time the fact that the victim has come out publicly means there is now an opportunity for Samoa to do something about this problem.”

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