WCCC calls for a response to teen sexuality

While most teens and young adults who send nude photos or videos of sexual activity may see it as a harmless flirty note or activity, the potential ramifications are far greater, because once it is sent, the photo or video is a permanent record that is now out of the hands of the sender. The trend has been labelled as ‘sexting’ and indicates the need for a broader conversation about teenage sexuality.


In Tonga, the ‘sexting’ has just started to raise alarm bells.  At this stage with easy access to mobile phones and two networks in Tonga competing with competitive prices – means that everyone, especially young people can now afford to own a mobile phone. But the mobile phone itself is just a small part of the problem.  The bigger problem that we need to look at is how we, as a society respond to ‘sex.’


WCCC Director, ‘Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki said “We have a proud culture of respect between brother and sister and yet things like this such as ‘sexting’ are happening in our very own country!


As a result, we need to seriously re-examine the way that we approach teenage sexuality, the ways that parents talk to teenagers about sex, and the levels of cruelty and humiliation that comes with things such as pictures or videos of oneself being forwarded all over Tonga.


Our children, teenagers and even ourselves – should be taught that sending or posting compromising photographs of themselves is dangerous and can have terrible consequences for their future. But that’s a lesson that should be taught by parents and teachers and suitable NGOs such as the WCCC”


The implications of sexting;

·         Suicide

·         Sexual Harassment

·         Mental Health problems

·         Rape and sexual assault

·         Increase of aggressive violent behaviour


If you would like resources or assistance talking with teens about sex, please contact the Crisis Centre 222 40 or wccrisiscentre@gmail.com


Steller performance breaks the silence on HIV

Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC)  in collaboration with Tupou High School and the University of the South Pacific Tonga campus conducted an excellent production  Love for Life: Silence and HIV.

Through the story of Mele- a mother of two with an abusive and unfaithful husband for years – the audience is taken on a journey of emancipation. Mele learns how to stand up for herself and finds God in the process.  The performance deals with the difficulties of living with HIV/ AIDS and the cross cutting issues of domestic violence, mythology, modernity, Christianity, gender issues, stigma and discrimination.

Written in 2009 for the Fiji Pacific Youth Festival, Love for Life: Silence and HIV  was produced and directed by Allan Alo and poet Frances Koya with music directors were Calvin Rore and Damiano Logaivau. The Tonga version starred Mele Pelenato, Mele Maher , Tevita Hafoka and Fifita Selui in the lead roles.

Siaila Jagroop from the TNYC believes that the performance encourages young Tongans to help break the silence on HIV “Being silent about HIV continues to hold people captive in ignorance to stigma and discrimination. Breaking the silence can be achieved through many ways from dancing to singing and even plain conversations. The teams from Oceania together have paved the way for breaking the silence that continues to produce misunderstanding and misleading assumptions.”



Reforming views towards victims of HIV/AIDS

WCCC staff attended a workshop on HIV /AIDS and Human Rights which looked into the rights of the HIV positive victims and how we can create a safe and supportive environment.


Participants included representatives from NGOs, civil society and Government Ministries. HIV Community trainer from the Tonga National Youth Congress (TNYC), Mr. Poli Kefu highlighted the emphasis of the training of eliminating discrimination.

 “I was shocked when it comes to these issues, even though we are a Christian country but when it comes to the issue of discrimination Tonga is one of the worst, reading the situational analysis of People’s perception on HIV – it was very sad. When the case is known the individual is treated badly. These alarmed me and make me to further on doing the awareness and the training of the population about HIV and Human rights”


Counselor Advocate of the WCCC Lesila To’ia also attended the training. “ I learnt a lot from this workshop, especially to firstly change my mindset, attitudes to be positive towards people and to respect their rights. Also to help in educating people about this issue and to stop stigma/ discriminating those that are affected.”


Related issues of HIV/AIDS were discussed by the participants and indicated that they are dealt with very poorly here in Tonga, “Mainly because of ignorance. The majority of the people do not really or fully understand these issues unless they are taught about” said To’ia.


Kefu believes that the training will guide him for conducting work in the future. “I liked the right to protection of confidentiality and some other rights which are to be withheld and that gave me a foundation to human rights”.


Leading research: unreported sexual assault in Tonga

Reports of sexual assault in Tonga have been on the increase.  In the first case recorded of its type, a women has been trafficked here into the Kingdom to take part as a prostitute. Cases have also been processed through the courts involving incest with minors and rape. This increase in reports may be due to increased criminal activity, or an increased understanding that sexual assault is not acceptable. Despite this increase, the majority of sexual assault continues to go unreported. Women are been discriminated, abused and forced against their will to partake in sexual activities.

The WCCC is writing a report in the unreported status of sexual assault in Tonga. The centre aims to identify high risk areas which require more access to services and increase the level of understanding about sexual assault as a crime.

There are many reasons that sexual assault is not reported to authorities. With cases such as incest or rape, which are highly taboo, victims may feel frightened or embarrassed. The perpetrator may also be protected within the community, especially if they are a family member or a known person to the victim.

WCCC is  writing this report due to the belief that It is about time that we take action to help stop sexual assault of women here in Tonga. If you know about any cases of sexual assault, or any situation that you believe may be linked to sexual assault, please contact the centre on 222 40.


Westpac supports Women and Children Crisis Centre in time of need

Westpac Bank of Tonga presented over a thousand pa’anga worth of donations to the Women and Children Crisis Centre. Staff of Westpac worked together to collect food, clothes, blankets and a cheque of $1200.

Safe House Manager, Sr. Anunisia Fifita accepted the donations with a
big smile, “The generosity of the Westpac staff has touched the hearts
of the workers at the centre and especially the survivors of violence.
These donations are really thoughtful and useful – perfect for the
clients at the safe house”.

Westpac General Manager, Mr. Paul Wilkinson excitedly presented the
donations on behalf of the staff at Westpac and indicated that it is
part of an ongoing committment of the bank to supporting essential
services in the community.

It is the latest support as the Crisis Centre raises much needed funds
so that it can continue to operate the safe house and free counselling
services for survivors of violence – including domestic violence, rape
and sexual assault. Over the past three weeks the Centre has been
running a fundraising drive, which included a radiothon and collecting
clothes and food from villages all over Tongatapu.

Since the Crisis Centre established itself as an independent, Non Government
Organisation in late 2009, it has received partial funding from Mama
Cash,Global Fund for Women, and the Fiji Womens Crisis Centre .However
the costs of furnishing and maintaining the safe house (which provides
short term housing for suvivors of violence) have been entirely
reliant on the generosity of
the Tongan community.

Reports of violence against women have been increasing in Tonga, with
Ministry of Police statistics indicating that 2,753 women were victims of
physical abuse since 2000.

WCCC Director, ‘Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki said “Eliminating
violence in Tonga requires the support of all parts of our society.
This donation from Westpac is a symbol that the business community
considers violence against women to be a priority area”

“Especially in these times when the Tongan economy is not performing well –
the decision by Westpac to donate to the centre is very much
appreciated.  During times of economic hardship, the number of clients
to the crisis centre also increases” said Guttenbeil-Likiliki.


NO to sending our troops to Afganistan

The Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) is putting the pressure on to revise a decision recently passed in Tongan parliament to send troops to Afganistan.

55 Tongan soldiers are committed to begin service in Afghanistan in November, with a total of 275 soldiers committed over a two-year period. The British Government will fund the program, will Tongan defence force troops to be paid £30 (80 TOP) a day for service.

Debates in parliament regarding the Bill, which was passed with a unanimous vote 22 – 0, were centred on employment – which the WCCC believes are short sighted.

“The obvious short term impacts of this decision may be employment – but at what cost?” said the Director of the WCCC, Ofa-ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki.

“Not only are the lives of soliders on the line – those who return from warfare experience significant trauma, and are exposed to a culture of violence. Then consider the impact this has on the soldiers families, their spouses, their children. We work so hard for peace here in Tonga – it is very disappointing to see us willingly participate in violence ”

The NGO, which works to eliminate violence in the Kingdom, is calling for a national referendum on sending Tongan troops to Afganistan. “The fact is that this process should have been a national referendum – it is a matter of national significance, with long term implications for the Tongan workforce and security of our country.

We have to question the net benefits of this decision, because clearly the Government has not considered them” said Guttenbeil Likiliki.

WCCC is concerned with the process surrounding the decision. “There was no time to have a national discussion about the benefits and detriments of this important decision. It was pulled from under the carpet –  all of a sudden we hear on radio that Parliament’s debate will be on whether our troops should go to Afghanistan or not. The next morning, the decision is made. It’s simply not enough time for parliamentarians and the nation to consider the implications of such an important decision” said Guttenbeil-Likiliki.

Officials have claimed that the situation in Afganistan is safer than Iraq, where Tongan soliders served from 2004 to 2006, and again from 2007 to December 2008.

“Using Iraq as a measurement is completely unacceptable. It is like saying that our budget deficit is not as big as it was last year. Therefore it is fine for us to have a budget deficit. It is not a matter of one war being perceived as ‘safer’ than another. All wars are unsafe, and we must question our involvement.”

Two Fijian soiliders have already died in conflict in Afghanistan this year. “Obviously Afghanistan is a security threat. To suggest otherwise is completely ignorant. We have to ask whether these soliders are getting paid enough to risk their life. Really, can any amount of money justify this risk?

Like Tonga’s defence force, Fijian troops were approached by the British Government.”Why should our pacific women and men die for a war they are not connected to? Supporting Britain places us in a position of high risk – we are now aligned with the big guns in a war which the United Nations did not authorise and as a result Tonga will now be open to terrorist threats.”

Concern has also been expressed that the Governments unanimous decision may have more sinister undertones. “If Tonga was to have a military uprising, such as in Fiji, this experience of our soldiers would be an ideal training ground for a militia backed government. That is hardly a situation we would willingly become involved in, especially now when we are supposed to be forging our way towards a new democratic monarch system of government.”

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