National Study on Domestic Violence against Women in Tonga

08/03/2012 16:48

 Violence against women and girls in Tonga: The reality of everyday life

(by Ma’a Fafine moe Famili)

The Members of Parliament Social Justice Committee have been presented with some disturbing facts about the everyday reality for women and girls in Tonga as based on a Tonga’s first national study on violence against women and girls.

The landmark study by Ma'a Fafine mo e Famili, will be launched by the Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano on Monday 12 March 2012.

In response to the findings the Chairperson of the Social Justice committee and the only female Member of Parliament, Hon. Dr. 'Ana Taufe'ulungaki says: “There is a double standard applied to women in Tonga. "We are seen as sisters and wives and when we are seen as sisters, we are ranked and regarded highly in the society.  But today, most men see us as wives, and therefore we are treated like wives and are no longer regarded as being socially high or treated with the love and respect that is integral to Tongan values and culture."

Key report findings presented to the Social Justice Committee and include:

- 77% of Tongan women and girls are affected by violence perpetrated by their fathers or teachers.

- Perpetrators of violence are just as likely to be well-educated Tongan men.

When women get married, their situation and exposure to violence and abuse does not improve:

- 33% of married women are victims of physical violence.

- 17% of married women are victims of sexual violence.

- 24% of married women are subject to emotional violence.

The study also found that many men and husbands considered it acceptable to exert controlling behavior that affected women’s ability to access health care, and interact with family and friends, and that perpetrators are just as likely to be well educated Tongan men.

- 57% need to ask permission before seeking health care.

- 87% of women reported that her partner insists on knowing where she is at all times.

While the findings of the study are alarming, key recommendations of the study to reduce the incidence and cause of violence against women and girls involve a return to upholding core Tongan values of culture, reciprocity, respect and love.

The study was developed by a team of Tongan and international experts and began four years ago. This landmark study has been enabled with the support of the Australian Government.