Level of violence against women increases beyond critical point, says centre director

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A recent protest march in Nukuʻalofa
PHOTO: About 300 protesters marched in Nukuʻalofa recently in protest against the government’s move to ratify CEDAW. The marchers were mainly women who were told by some of their church leaders that the United Nationsʻ convention would open the door for same sex marriage and abortion. CEDAW supporters said these church leaders hide behind churches so they continue to discriminate against women.

Violence against Tongan women has increased, even after it was reported as being at critical level.

Talking to Kaniva News through emails, Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, the Director of Women and Children Crisis Centre, said that between 2000 and 2013, the Tongan Police received more than 5000 reports of domestic violence.

Most of the victims were women and children.

Likiliki was responding to questions from Kaniva News about whether ratifying the  Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) would help reduce violence against women in the kingdom.

Likiliki, who is a strong supporter of CEDAW, said  Tonga would benefit if it signed  the United Nations’ convention, “through its counselling advocacy and support services and temporary safe housing.”

Likiliki referred to a statement in 2009 by Tonga’s former Police Commissioner Chris Kelly in which he said reported cases of Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) were  just the tip of the iceberg and that ultimately the real situation of VAWC in Tonga was unknown.

She also referred to the Ma’a Fafine moe Famili (MFF) national survey on domestic violence taken in 2009 which found that one in three women who had been in a partnership had experienced physical violence.

A total of 40 percent of  women who had been in a relationship had reported physical and/or sexual violence from a partner at least once in their life.

The report said 68 percent of women had experienced physical violence by a person other than their partner. The findings showed that Tongan women also endured high levels of controlling behaviour by men, with 87 percent of women reporting that their partner insisted on knowing where she was at all times.

Almost two-thirds (57 percent) of women taking part in the survey said they needed to ask permission before seeking health care.

In 2007 the World Health Organisation calculated that the total annual cost of violence against women to Tonga’s economy was TOP$18.3 million (NZ$13 million).

“Reports of violence against women and children in Tonga are increasing,” Likiliki said.

“Statistics from both the Tonga Police and the WCCC show that violence against women and children (VAWC) are at critical levels.”

In 2014 WCCC dealt with 502 cases of women who had experienced domestic violence and 40 who had been raped.

The report also said that 326 girls had experienced domestic violence and 38 girls had been raped in the same period.

According to the 2014 report, the Crisis Centre conducted 665 new and repeat counselling sessions for 29 girls who had been physically abused and 84 who had been sexually abused.

In  2013, 334 cases of domestic violence, including 28 cases against boys, were reported.

Domestic violence report

Tradition is often used to justify domestic violence in Tonga, according to the 2009 study.

The report, which was published in 2012, said: “A commonly perceived justification for the violence is the traditional Tongan power relationships with male dominance, using violence as a means to discipline women (and children), which makes it hard for individual women to stand up for their rights,” the report said.

“Women develop their own strategiesto cope: many pray, some talk to parents, and a very few seek help from official authorities – the latter only when the situation is serious, and when the strength to endure ends.”

The report said violence against women, and against children, was widespread in the kingdom. Violence was mostly perpetrated by partners, but even more by fathers and teachers.

In some cases families sided with husbands and forced them to submit to their husband’s physical and sexual abuse.

The 2009 survey quotes horrifying stories from survivors of domestic violence.

“I lost three teeth that day; luckily I did not lose the baby I was carrying….”

“The second time [that he almost killed me] was when I was pregnant. He was angry at me and wanted to hit me as usual so I ran away from him to one of my neighbours. He ran after me and on his way, he pulled out a 2 x 4 piece of timber from the fence next door and he came up and hit me hard on my back. He hit me again and I fell. The pain was agonizing. I lost my baby as a result of this.”

“My husband was angry at me for putting on a new blouse to go to town. He is always angry when he sees me putting on something new or even just dressing up. When I came back from town one day, he was waiting for me. He brought a cane knife and started to beat me with it. I tried to protect my face with my hands and I ended up getting cuts all along my arm, shoulders and hand. I didn’t know what to do. The pain was excruciating. After he beat me, he forced himself upon me sexually.”

“My husband wanted to sleep with me every night. If I did not sleep with him, he would beat me up and in the morning, he would tell my parents that I was disobedient to him. I ended up hiding from him and he told my parents about this so my parents locked me up in a room with my husband. They told me that it was the duty of the wife to sleep with her husband.”

The main points

  • Violence against Tongan women has increased, even after it was reported as being at critical level.
  • Director of Women and Children Crisis Centre, Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, said that between 2000 and 2013, the Tongan Police received more than 5000 reports of domestic violence.
  • Most of the victims were women and children.
  • Likiliki said Tonga would benefit if it signed  the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

For more information

Women and Children Crisis Centre

National Study on Domestic Violence Against Women in Tonga 2009 (Ma’a Fafine moe Famili, publishd 2012)

Unifem (Fiji office – regional headquarters for the Pacific)

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  1. Tupulaki taʻeʻamananekina tuʻunga ‘ulungaanga fakamamahiʻi ‘o e kakai fefiné, ʻi he lau ‘a e talekita ‘o e senitaá.

    ‘Oku kei tupulaki fakautuutu ‘a e ‘ulungaanga fakamamahi’i ‘o e kakai fefine Tongá neongo kuo lipooti atu ‘oku ‘i he tu’unga ta’e’amanekina ange fau.

    Na’e pehē ‘e ‘Ofa Guttenbeil, ko e Talēkita ‘o e Senitā ki he ngaahi fakatamaki ‘oku hoko ki he kakai fefine mo e fānaú, ‘i ha fe’īmeili’aki mo e Ongoongo ‘a e Kanivá kuo ma’u ‘e he Polisi Tonga ha ngaahi lipooti kuo laka hake ‘I he 5,000 ‘o e ngaahi ‘ulungaanga fakamamahi ‘i he nonofo ‘a kāinga ‘i he vaha’a ta’u ‘o e 2000 mo e 2013.

    Ko e lahi taha ‘o e ni’ihi faingata’a’ia ko e kakai fefine mo e fānau.

    Na’e fai ‘e Likiliki ‘a e tali ko ‘eni ki ha fehu’I mei he Ongongo ‘a e Kanivá fekau’aki mo e fakamo’oni ko ia ki he Konivēsio ki hono Faka’auha ‘a e Kotoa ‘o ha Fa’ahinga Fōtunga Fakamamahi pē ki he Kakai Fefine (CEDAW), pe ‘e ala tokoni nai ki hano fakasi’isi’i hono fakaehaua ‘o e kakai fefiné ‘i he pule’anga fakatu’i.

    Ko Likilikí ko e poupou mālohi foki ia ‘o e CEDAW, na’a ne pehē “ ’e lavengamonū ‘a Tonga ‘o kapau ‘e fakamo’oni ‘i he konivēsio ‘a e Pule’anga Fakatahataha, ‘o fou ‘i he kau fakafofonga fale’i mo e ngaahi ngāue tokoni pea ke malu foki ‘a e ngaahi loto fale.

    Ne lave foki ‘a Likiliki ki he lipooti ‘i he 2009 ‘a e Komisiona Polisi kimu’a Chris Kelly na’a ne pehē ai ko e ngaahi keisi kuo lipooti ko ia ‘o e fakaehaua fakamamahi ‘o e kakai fefine mo e fānau (VAWC) ko e ki’i konga si’i pē ia ‘o e fu’u fa’unga kei tonumia pea ko e mo’oni ‘o e tu’unga ‘oku ‘i ai ‘a e ‘Ulungaanga Fakaehaua Fakamamahi ‘o e Kakai Fefine mo e Fānau ‘i Tongá ‘oku kei fūfūnaki pē.

    ‘Oku ne toe fakatatau foki ki he savea ‘i he 2009 ‘a e Ma’a Fafine mo e Fāmili (MFF) ki he fakaehaua ko ia ‘oku hoko ‘i he ngaahi fāmili ‘a ia na’e mahino mei ai ko e fefine ‘e toko taha mei he toko tolu kotoa pē ‘oku ne foua ‘a e ngaahi fakamamahi fakafisikale ‘i he nofo fetauhi’aki.

    ‘Oku fe’unga fakakatoa mo e 40% ‘o e kakai fefine kuo nau nofo ‘i he fetauhi’aki ‘o e vā, kuo ‘osi tu’o taha ‘enau fetaulaki mo e mo’ui fakaehaua ‘i he fisikale mo e ngaahi tō’onga ongo fakamānako (sexual).

    Na’e hā he lipooti ko e 68% ‘o e kakai fefine kuo nau foua ‘a e ngaahi fakaehaua fakafisikale ko e fai ‘e ha taha kehe pē ia mei he ngaahi hoa´. Na’e mahino mei he me’a ko eni kuo ‘ilo ‘a e kei kātekina ‘e he kakai fefine ‘a e fa’ahinga ‘ulungaanga fakaaoao ‘o e kakai tangata, pea ko e 87% ‘o e kakai fefine ‘oku nau lipooti ‘a e fiema’u ‘e honau hoá ke ‘ilo pe ‘oku nau ‘i fe’ia ‘I he taimi kotoa pē.

    ‘Oku meimei ko e 2/3 (57%) ‘o e kakai fefine na’a nau kau ki he savea ne nau pehē ‘oku fiema’u ia ke nau ‘uluaki ma’u ha ngofua kimu’a pea nau toki kumi hano tokangaekina ’enau mo’ui.

    Na’e fika’i ‘e he Kautaha Mo’ui ‘a Māmani ‘I he 2007 ‘a e fakamole fakata’u ki he ‘ekonōmika ‘a Tonga fekau’aki mo e ngaahi ‘ulungaanga fakaehaua ki he kakai fefine ‘o fe’unga mo e pa’anga Tonga ‘e 18.3miliona (NZ$ 13miliona).

    “’Oku tupu fakautuutu ‘a e ngaahi lipooti ki hono fakaehaua ‘o e kakai fefine mo e fānau ‘I Tonga”, ‘i he lau ‘a Likiliki”.

    “Ko e fakafuofua ko ē mei he Polisi Tonga pea mo e WCCC ‘oku hā ai ‘a e tu’unga ta’e’amanekina ‘oku ‘i ai ‘a e fakaehaua ‘o e kakai fefine mo e fānau”.

    ‘I he 2014 na’e fetakai ai ‘a e WCCC mo e ngaahi keisi ‘e 502 ‘a e kakai fefine ne nau foua ‘a e fakaehaua pea ko e 40 ai ko e fakamālohi.

    Na’e toe lave foki ‘a e lipooti ki he fānau fefine ‘e 326 ne nau foua ‘a e ngaahi fakaehaua ‘i he nofo pē ‘i ‘api pea ko e fānau fefine ‘e 38 ne fakamālohi’i kinautolu ‘i he fo’i vaa’i taimi tatau.

    Fakatatau ki he lipooti ‘o e 2014, na’e ngāue ‘a e Senitā ki he ngaahi ngāue fakafale’i fo’ou mo toutou hoko ‘e 665 pea ko e fānau fefine ‘e 29 na’e ngaohi kovi’i fakafisikale pea ko e 84 ne fakaehaua’i honau ngaahi ongo fakamānako (sexual).

    ‘I he 2013, ko e ngaahi keisi fakaehaua ‘e 334 ‘i he nofo fakafāmili, kau ai e keisi ‘e 28 ki he fānau tangata na’e kau ‘i hono lipooti ange´.

    Lipooti ‘o e Fakaehaua Fakafāmili

    Fakatatau ki he ako ne fai ‘i he 2009, ko e taufatungamotu’a na’e ngāue’aki ia ko e fakalaloa ki he ngaahi fakaehaua ‘i he tukui ‘api ‘i Tonga´.

    Na’e pehē ‘e ha lipooti na’e pulusi ‘i he 2012, “ko e ngaahi fakalaloa ne fai ki he ngaahi fakaehaua ko e ngaahi mafai tauhi-vā tukufakaholo faka-Tonga ‘a ia ‘oku mafai pule lahi ai ‘a e kakai tangata, ‘o ngāue’aki ‘a e fakaehaua ko e founga faka’ulungaanga’i ia ‘o e kakai fefine (mo e fānau) ‘a ia ‘oku hoko ia ko e faingata’a ki he kakai fefine fakataautaha ken au tu’u ma’a ‘enau ngaahi totonu.

    “ ‘Oku fo’u leva ‘e he kakai fefine ha’anau ngaahi founga ke matu’uekina ‘aki: ko e toko lahi ko e lotu, ni’ihi ko e talanoa ki he mātu’a, pea ko e ki’i toko si’I ‘oku nau kumi tokoni ki he ngaahi mafai fakapule’anga – ka ‘oku toki hoko ia ‘i he tu’unga kuo fu’u faingata’a ‘aupito pea ‘i he feinga ke ausia ha faingaālie.

    Na’e pehē ‘e he lipooti ko e fakaehaua ko ē ‘o e kakai fefine mo e fānau, na’e lauta ia ‘i he pule’anga. Ko e ngaahi fakaehaua na’e meimei ko e fai ‘e he ngaahi hoa, ka ne toe lahi pē ‘ene fakahoko ‘e he kau faiako mo e ngaahi tamai.

    ‘I he ngaahi keisi ‘e ni’ihi ‘oku kau pē ngaahi fāmili ia mo e ngaahi husepāniti pea fakamālohi’i ke fakahoko ‘e he husepāniti ‘a e ngāue hala fakafisikale mo fakaeongo fakamānako.

    Na’e lave ‘a e lipooti ‘o e 2009 ki he ngaahi talanoa fakalilifu mei he ni’ihi ne hao mo’ui mei he fakaehaua ‘i he ngaahi tukui ‘api.

    “ Na’e tō hoku fo’I nifo ‘e tolu ‘i he ‘aho koi a; ko e monū ia ‘a e ‘ikai ke tō ‘eku pēpē he na’a ku lolotonga feitama…”

    “ Ko e tu’o ua (na’a ne meimei fakapoongi au) ko e taimi ia na’a ku feitama ai. Na’a ne ‘ita ‘ia au pea ne loto leva ke ne tā au ‘o hangē ko e me’a ‘oku anga ki ai ka na’a ku lele ‘o hao mei ai ki he taha ‘o hoku kaungā’api. Na’a ne tulimui mai ‘o unuhi hake ha fu’u papa 42 mei he ‘ā ‘o e ‘api hoko ‘o ne hangatonu mai pē ‘o taa’i au ‘I hoku tu’a. Na’a ne toe taa’i au ‘ou tō ki lalo. Ko e langa lahi faka’ulia na’e hoko. Ko hono ola leva ko e tō ‘eku pēpē”.

    “Na’e ‘ita hoku mali ko ‘eku tui hoku falani fo’ou ke u ‘alu ki kolo. ‘Oku ‘ita ma’u pē ia ‘i ha’ane sio ‘oku ou tui ha vala fo’ou pe ko ha’aku teuteu lelei pē. Ko e taimi ne u foki mai ai mei kolo ‘I ha ‘aho ‘e taha, kuo ‘osi talitali ange kia au. Na’a ne to’o mai ha hele ‘o kamata ke ne tā ‘aki au. Na’a ku feinga ke malu’i hoku mata ‘aki hoku nima ‘o iku ke lavea ai hoku uma, fatafata mo hoku nima. Na’e ‘ikai ke u toe ‘ilo pe ko e hā e me’a ke fai. Na’e ‘ikai ke u matu’uekina e mamahi. Ko e ‘osi ‘ene tā au pea ne fakamālohi’I leva au”.

    “Na’e fiema’u ‘e hoku mali ke ma mohe ‘I he pō kotoa. Kapau ‘e ‘ikai ke ma mohe, te ne tautea au pea ko e pongipongi leva, te ne tala ki he’eku ongo mātu’a na’a ku talangata’a ki ai. Na’e iku ke u toitoi mei ai pea ne tala ki he’eku mātu’a ‘o hanga ai ‘e he’eku mātu’a ‘o loka’i au ‘I ha loki mo hoku mali. Na’a na pehē ko e fatongia ia ‘o e uaifi ke mohe mo hono mali”.

    Ko e ngaahi poini

    • Kuo tupulaki ‘a e fakaehaua ‘o e kakai fefine Tonga, neongo kuo lipooti kuo ‘i heb tu’unga fakatu’utāmaki.
    • Na’e pehē ‘e he Talekita ‘o e Senitā Faingata’a’ia ‘a e Kakai Fefine mo e fānau, Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, ko e vaha’a ‘o e 2000 mo e 2013, na’e ma’u ai ‘e he Polisi Tonga ha lipooti ne laka hake he 5,000 ki he fakaehaua ‘I he nofo ‘I he tukui ‘api.
    • Ko e toko lahi taha ‘o e kau mamahi ko e kakai fefine mo e fānau
    • Pehē ‘e Likiliki ‘e lavemonū ‘a Tonga kapau ‘e fakamo’oni ki he Konivēsio ‘o hono Faka’auha ‘o e fa’ahinga kotoa pē ‘o e laulanu fekau’aki mo e Kakai Fefine (CEDAW)