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FSM President Panuelo calls on Micronesian respect for widows

The President of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) David Panuelo has commemorated International Widows Day by reaching out to a grieving widow.

“I want you to know that you matter, that your family matters, and your grief matters,” Mr Panuelo said.

“I hope that, by acknowledging your pain, it will ease it, if only by a little.”

The husband and father of the family was the victim of an alleged murder on June 12 this year.

After confirming that the alleged attackers were already being held in custody, Mr Panuelo said the Government genuinely cared for the family.

Expressing sympathy and concern, he said “with the hope that imperfect words are better than no words at all, I want you to know that I am sorry for your loss.

“Truthfully, I do not and cannot know what you are going through; but I do know that it is tragic and terrible.

“I am sorry your husband died. I am sorry your children have lost their father.”

The FSM has hundreds of women who have lost their husbands, and these women and their children often invisibly suffer the impact of widowhood, ranging from economic deprivation to social stigmatisation, on top of their own experiences of grief and loss.

The alleged killing was also a topic of discussion between President Panuelo and the Governor of the State of Chuuk Alexander R. Narruhn this week, where the president offered the governor any support required in the area of law enforcement.

Both committed to ensuring that the rule of law and the Micronesian tradition of respect are upheld at all times and by all facets of society.

“My fellow Micronesians,” President Panuelo said in a statement, “Human rights are for everyone. For many widows, losing their husband can mean losing rights, facing economic insecurity, and facing social discrimination.

“I call on each and every one of us to go out of our way to show love and support to our families and our neighbours, and even further, to show love to every single person we meet.

“Our Micronesian tradition of respect need not only refer to deference to our elders; it can, and must, also mean to show compassion for our widows.”

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