TONGA’s Women’s and Children’s Crisis Centre (WCCC) has won its second international award in two months for its work in human rights.
The organization will be awarded the Global Social Change Film Festival and Institute Activist Award in an inaugural festival at Ubud, Bali this April.
“It’s great to be acknowledged for the work that all at WCCC do – we work to eliminate violence in the kingdom. We want to create safe happy homes and workplaces so that all can live a life that is free from abuse”, said centre director ‘Ofa-ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki.
Statistics from the Tonga Police show the number of reported domestic violence cases jumped from 113 in 2000 to 404 in 2009 – an average of more than one case per day. Four women and one child died in 2009 in domestic violence-related incidents. Less than half (47%) result in criminal convictions and many cases go unreported.
Meanwhile, domestic and sexual violence remain taboo topics for Tonga’s conservative culture.
“Violence against women [is] an issue that receives scant attention, but is an urgent human rights issue impacting Tonga as it does in every country in the world,” said Guttenbeil-Likiliki.
Founded in October 2009, the WCCC operates a safe house, provides 24 hour counselling, legal advice, financial advice, male advocacy, and community outreach and awareness programmes. In 2010, it received 354 clients seeking help.
“The majority of these cases are domestic violence cases, but we are seeing a rise in the number of sexual violence cases being reported – that includes incest, rape and sexual assault,” said staff member Leanne Torpey.
“It’s sad that it happens but it’s great to see more people coming forward and being braver to seek help about it”.
Last month the centre also won the Pacific Human Rights Award issued by the Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.