WCCC update on DV Legislation Consultations

27/02/2012 15:15

21 February 2012



TONGA:  Drafting Instructions for a comprehensive violence against women (VAW) and children legislation approved for review by Tonga’s cabinet IN 2011 was presented this morning to a room full of church leaders during a consultation hosted by the Ministry of Education, Women’s Affairs and Culture (MEWAC).

The review process will involve extensive consultations throughout the country.  Identified key stakeholders have been identified and the aim is to gain as much support and encourage ownership of the bill before it becomes law. 

The review is a part of the Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) and Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) project titled Changing Laws, Protecting Women in Tonga. The project is also being run in other countries throughout the Pacific.

Lepolo Mahe Taunisila, the Country Focal Officer of the project, presented a compact review of the documentation available on violence against women in Tonga.  This included information from reports issued by the NGOs (National Centre for Women and Children and Women and Children Crisis Centre) whose focus is on eliminating VAW in Tonga,  the Police Domestic Violence Unit as well as regional reports issued by SPC and the NZAID funded Pacific Prevention of Domestic Violence Programme (PPDVP).

Key highlights from Taunisila’s presentation to the church leaders were statistics showing the increase of Domestic Violence from various sources; for example in 2010 the Tonga Police recorded 588 incidences of domestic violence.  According to a report issued by the PPDVP on Domestic Violence reports to the Police in 2010 throughout the Pacific, Tonga featured the highest reports in 2009 with 460 DV cases and in 2010, 588 DV cases as compared to Kiribati, Samoa and the Cook Islands, where the PPDVP program is operating.

Moreover,  Taunisila also highlighted a World Health Organisation Report that estimated that the annual cost of VAW to Tonga’s national economy is approximately TOP$18.3 million. 

Following the overview of reviewed literature, head of the Women’s Affairs Unit of the MEWAC, Polotu Fakafanua-Paunga, proceeded to present the drafting instructions of the proposed bill on DV in Tonga currently being drafted by Crown Law.

Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC), ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki was asked by the Secretariat of the Church Leaders Committee to present demographics on the clients received at the crisis centre with a specific focus on the clients’ identification of belonging to a Faith Based Organisaiton.    Guttenbeil-Likiliki briefly presented the statistics of the WCCC as well as advocating a discussion on the causes and contributing factors of DV in Tonga – as supported by anecdotal evidence documented by the crisis centre.

The Church Leaders present were clearly taken aback by the information presented, with some indicating that this was the first time they had been presented specific statistics on DV in Tonga.  Many did not realize that the situation of DV in Tonga was so appalling.  At the same time, the Church Leaders requested that they be given ample time to consult amongst themselves as to what their key recommendations or comments would be regarding the drafting instructions presented.  It was motioned by the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Paini Mafi, that they would thereafter present a formal position with recommendations to the CFO and Crown Law.

For more information on the Changing Laws, Protecting Women project in Tonga, specifically the drafting instructions, please contact Leoplo Taunisila at lepolotaunisila@yahoo.com