PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT
Pacific Islands Development Program/East-West Center
TONGA LAUNCHES VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN INITIATIVES
NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, March 10, 2012) – The Tongan government has launched new initiatives in its campaign to end violence against women and girls, the Solicitor General, 'Aminiasi Kefu told a gathering to celebrate the International Women's Day 2012 on Thursday, March 8.
The Solicitor General outlined a number of initiative that government has initiated, including a Bill on Domestic Violence that will be tabled into parliament before the end of the year, the establishment of a Ministry of Women's Affairs, the establishment of a committee to review the Land Act, to address the issue of women's rights to own land, and a definite move by government toward rectifying the UN Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women CEDAW.
'Aminiasi also pointed out that the Tonga Police Domestic Violence unit is on the frontline of fighting domestic violence, and they have adopted a 'no drop policy' on the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence in cases such as common assault, bodily harm, indecent assault, incest, and rape.
He said that government has taken on a challenging workload, "but Government cannot do it alone, its partners in the community, civil societies, aid donors, regional and international organizations have to assist to create a safe and secure society."
In the same gathering to mark the International Women's Day 2012, the Australian High Commissioner to Tonga, HE Mr Thomas Roth launched an A$1 million UN Women Pacific Fund to End Violence Against Women.
The Tongan situation with regards to equal rights for men and women is a mixed bag, while in education, boys and girls have the equal right to education, Mr Thomas Roth they found that Tongan recipients of Australian scholarship between 1997 and 2007 a higher proportion of postgraduate female alumni, 56% were in senior management and executive roles compare with on 45% of their male counterparts.
"Interesting also is that 64% of the Tongan male postgraduate work in the public sector while 31% of the female postgraduate are more likely to work for a civil society organisations," said Mr Thomas Roth.
He was not sure whether women were better students than men, but the equal opportunity for education enable women to have better-paying jobs.
While women are proving their potential when they are given the equal right, there is an unprecedented increase in violence against women.
Mr Thomas Roth said that the UN Women Pacific Fund to End Violence Against Women would be used to establish grants facility and training services for Tongan organizations to promote their work to eliminate violence against women.
He said Tonga has accomplished significant achievements with regards to gender equality including education which is a key component for gender equality and empowerment.
The Australian Government is a committed and firm advocate and supporter of gender equality which is identified as a critical theme in their aid program to help advance women's voices in decision making, leadership, empowerment women economically, improve livelihood and security, end violence against women and girls at home, he said.
The International Women's Day celebration was held at Davina House and guests that included the Minister of Education, Hon 'Ana Taufe'ulungaki; Lord Vaea, the Minister of Agriculture; New Zealand High Commissioner, HE Dr Jonathan Austin and the Acting Police Commissioner, Taniela Faletau.
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