during the electoral campaigns we again find ourselves digging up the same old arguments against CEDAW (the Convention for Elimination of Discrimination Against Women).
The points raised by some candidates that CEDAW will legalize same sex marriage and abortion is ludicrous.
What we need to understand as a nation – is that the Constitution of Tonga is the supreme law of the land. Every other convention, treaty or legal binding agreement is not above the Constitution.
As it stands any bill can be drafted and presented to parliament to become law. It is then up to parliament, cabinet and the privy council to pass the bill into law.
What CEDAW does is encourage state parties to get rid of laws that are discriminatory against women. I don’t see what the big deal is. Tonga has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 1972, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995 and has recently become signatory to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2007.
Signing a convention means that as a nation we are saying yes these groups of people have rights that we want to recognize.
So the way I see this whole situation with CEDAW is that as a nation we are saying NO we don’t want to recognize the rights of our women. The fact is there is no ifs, buts or maybes to this! YES we want to protect the rights of women!!