Police training: “Victim of Crime”

The  WCCC   was  invited  to  do  a  session  on  the  topic – “ Victims  of  Crime “ at the  Police  Training  School  at  Longolongo   on  Wednesday  the  9th  of  February.

WCCC Counselors Team  Leader Süsana  ‘Uhatafe , Research Officer Lu’isa  Sāmani , Commuications Officer  Leeanne  Torpey  and  Community Education  Team Leader  Lësila  Tö’ia  were  there  to  do  the  presentation.

Lësila  started  the  session by  introducing  the  team .

She  continued  talking  about  the  Centre  and the  services  it  provides.

She  also  talked  about  the  structure  of  the  Centre ,  referral  system ,networking  with related  stakeholders. Lu’isa  then  talked  about  the  statistics  and  its  analysis, revealing that there are a number of clients who are victims of crime that do not report directly to the Police.

Then  finally  Süsana  talked about  the role of counsellors  and  the  24  hours counseling  services  the  Centre  provides.  She  also  emphasized   the  impacts  of  different  forms  of  violence on  the  survivors  and  victims’  lives.

There  were  20  people  altogether – 18  men  and  2 women. Community Education Team Leader, Lesila To’ia said,

“The  programme  was  really  good  because  we  can  tell  from  the  questions  they asked  that there  were  some  misunderstandings  about  the  issues that  the Centre lobbies for. Clarification   of  the  answers  made  them  aware  of   how the  law  stands  with  regards  to  violence.

Though  we  noticed  that  some  of  them  brought  up  the  myths  about  domestic  violence , majority  of  them  accepted  our  talk  and  were  willing  to  work  together  with  us  in  addressing  these  issues  at  the  end .

Especially  on  lobbying  for  women’s  rights  and  eliminating  violence  against  women  and  children which  is  a  positive  sign  and  very  much  needed  from  these  men  in  uniform”.

Revealed: 2010 statistics on Violence Against Women in Tonga

It has only been a year since the centre has been established yet WCCC’s statistics reflect the broader society trend in which more people are reporting incidences of violence against women.  A total number of 354 clients sought the services of the centre, with an increased reporting trend occurring throughout the year.

The Full Statistics Report for 2010 is available here.

[gview file=”http://tongawccc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/WCCC-stats-2010.pdf”]
For 2010 a total number of 354 clients sought the centre’s support services, including women, children and male clients. Domestic violence continues to be the most common source of support provided by WCCC, although reported cases of child abuse in 2010 have increased as have sexual violence cases including higher incidences of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The high peak season is noted between the months of May, Aug- December. However the high number of cases received in May is an anomaly – a large number of cases were referred to the centre in May although the incidents for referral occurred over a series of months. Therefore this peak is an exaggerated version of events.

The high peak season of August – December reflects the high numbers of reporting during the festivals that fall during this part of the year including the Heilala festival and Christmas festivities.

Low peak season is noted between the months Jan-April, June – July. Family obligations impact on the time and availability of women to report, which sees a dip in reporting during the beginning of the school year and also during church events of the year, where women often feel that obligations placed on them peak during this time, which they will priorities these obligations to their family and church obligations before their own welfare.

Neglect continues to be the most common reported form of child abuse. Other forms of child abuse, such as child sexual abuse, continue to be underreported with significant barriers making it difficult to report the actual level of these crimes. Barriers include a lack of appropriate legislation – without a Child Protection Act service providers have no legal baking to enter a situation if permission is not granted from a child’s direct guardians. Other barriers include a lack of trained personnel in institutions that work with children (such as teachers and health practitioners) to identify signs of abuse in children. Social stigma around reporting neglect is also significantly lower than reporting other types of child abuse, with significant causal factors of child neglect incorporating concepts that are culturally acceptable to discuss, such as poverty and hardship. Causal factors in other forms of child abuse are less culturally acceptable to discuss, with the role of the guardian of the child brought into question.

Despite increases in reported cases this year, cases of rape and sexual harassment continue to be underreported. Traditional taboos result in significant barriers to victims reporting these serious crimes- victims may feel embarrassed and frightened, and may know individuals in the institutions that they are reporting to. It is also highly likely that the victim will know the perpetrator of the crime – sexual violence is most commonly committed by an individual that is known to the perpetrator. Knowledge of the perpetrator can also be a significant barrier to reporting, with the victim concerned about ongoing relationships with the perpetrator and broader societal values of speaking out against the perpetrator.

Overall the crimes of violence against women and children that are committed – including domestic violence, child abuse and sexual abuse – are the result of gender inequalities between male and female partnerships. Analysis of the ‘the reasons for violence’ category for WCCC cases indicates that a pattern of male dominance and cultural patriarchy exists and is a significant factor in the majority of cases.

Women, who do not posses the same level of financial security as men and often feel the brunt of the social stigma about divorce, are often hesitant to leave violent relationships.

The system of patriarchy has a two fold impact on society’s ability to address violence against women. Firstly, patriarchy feeds into and encourages broadly held societal values that women are not of equal value to men. These attitudes result in increases in crimes of violence against women. Secondly, the patriarchal system discourages women from reporting crimes as they do not feel entitled to make a complaint, believing that their role in society is not of equal value to men, and that the opinion of men will be regarded as superior to their own. This sentiment may be best summed up by a client who reported a case of sexual harassment in the workplace:

“That day I felt so afraid that I can’t sleep at night for few weeks, I felt dirty and angry and when they were laughing at me I felt used ‘ little and without dignity, I also felt frustrated thinking that I can’t do anything about it, that I am powerless  in this situation…”

Contributing factors data is collected by WCCC to document the reasons behind why violence occurs. Note that they are not comprehensive reasons, nor are they causes for violence, they are an aspect or feature that contribute to the violence occurring. There are different types of contributing factors that the centre uses namely: Jealousy/Power Control, Family Problems, Financial, Extra Marital Affairs, Drugs/ Alcohol and other.

Clients can be referred from many sources. The majority of clients are referred to WCCC from the Ministry of Police Domestic Violence Unit, the Ministry of Health Hospital referrals and other NGOs and relevant entities, such as district nurses. Clients also come in of their own accord, having heard about WCCC in the media, or by word of mouth – which is collected in our statistics as walk in clients.

WCCC is based in Fanga ‘O Pilolevu on Tongatapu. Serious cases from outer islands are referred by the Police, but the vast majority of services are provided to those on Tongatapu. Please consider these when looking at the following demographic statistics, as it is not a comprehensive reflection of all of Tonga. The highest numbers of WCCC clients come from the town / inner city district and Mu’a, which has a Domestic Violence Unit at the district Police Station.

New cases make up the majority of work that WCCC does, with ongoing cases accounting for 6% of the counselor’s caseload.


Mo’ui ke Fiefia Safe house statistics

46 Women and Children have stayed at the safe house in 2010. The ‘accompanying children’ category indicates that the children are not clients of the centre – they came with their mother’s who are the clients of the centre. The free, temporary housing at the safe house is only provided by WCCC to those clients who are deemed high risk and in need of a safe place to stay. A comprehensive life skills program is being developed within the safe house to help provide further development for women and children using the centre’s services.

The safe house has survived due to ongoing community support. All furniture, clothing and food at the Safe House have been donated.

Client to Counselor per month

Approximately, each counselor has an average of 10-15 clients per month. This enables each counselor to conduct follow up actions with each of their clients and check how their cases are progressing. Although it has only been a year since the centre has established it has been a busy year for the centre.

It is therefore unhealthy for each counselor to take care of more than 10 clients a month but due to the fact that the centre received a total of 354 clients last year still our counselors were able to help and support their clients through their court cases, conducting home visits and also follow up actions by phone.

Community Awareness

WCCC statistics indicate that community awareness programs, media, and advocacy programs have led to increased awareness of the centre’s services and how it supports women and children in need.  Awareness programs were conducted at 24 communities and 12 schools during the year as well as at Vaiola Hospital.  In addition two Male Advocacy workshops were conducted, with the support of Global Fund for Women and the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre.

Due to the centre’s financial status workshops were kept to a minimum. The more cost effective methods of community awareness were employed – conducting sessions and door knocking in communities which are also viewed as appropriate awareness mechanisms to discuss the topics that WCCC advocates for, which are often considered culturally taboo. Ongoing awareness was also conducted at Vaiola Hospital which involves educating health professionals to recognize signs of abuse and to encourage referrals. School awareness involves dedicating time in school assemblies to WCCC, in which the students are broken into groups of boys and girls, and the services and work of WCCC is discussed. Monitoring and evaluation is incorporated into each of these programs with a variety of feedback indicating that WCCC’s core message is being relayed; that violence is never acceptable.

The male advocacy program is also run on a minimal budget. The WCCC male advocate attended faikava at a number of communities where he and a large group of men were able to discuss issues regarding DV/VAW. This was free of charge and also convenient because they were able to talk on different views simply spreading the message.


Community Awareness and Advocacy Statistics

2010 witnessed the first sex trafficking case for the Kingdom, in line with increasing rates of reported cases of sex trafficking in the Pacific. Sex trafficking is when a person is  held against their will and forced into committing sexual acts in exchange for gifts or money.

It is anticipated that the trend of increased reporting will continue in 2011 as community awareness about all forms of abuse increases.

Women at work places: speak up and break the silence!

A first hand case study from a client of WCCC


I have been working at my job since June 2010. I just broke up with my boyfriend at the time when a guy from my work asked if he could be my boyfriend and I accepted. After about two weeks I told him that we’re finished – I didn’t like his behavior. From then on he used to come to my office and say things to me like why did I finish with him but he never disrespect me in any way.

On the last day of December, he came into my office doing the same thing complaining and asking if we could go back on being boyfriend girlfriend again. All of a sudden another man from our work walked in and grabbed me from the front and told my ex-boyfriend to kiss me. I was shaking my head around because I didn’t want to.   But he was holding my face in his hands and kissing my lips, sticking his tongue in my mouth. After that they went out the door laughing. I could hear them saying to their co-worker outside, “the offender just kissed the victim, she deserved it because she was playing hard to get”.

In the beginning of this year, my ex boyfriend grabbed my buttock one day as I was walking outside my office. At this time, I heard rumors that he is talking about me having an affair with another men, saying that I am not a virgin and one day he say it straight to my face. One day I walked inside one of the rooms at work and as I walk in I can hear my name came up in my ex-boyfriend’s conversation and the men burst out laughing. I was so angry. I walked up to him kicking his feet saying, what did you say about me? He didn’t say anything, they just kept on laughing. So I kicked him again. Then he kicked me three times on the chest. It hurt so much because he was wearing his safety boots. I went to the doctor to make a report. I took it to the police and made a complaint about the two men, the man who held me and my ex boyfriend who kissed me, grabbed my buttock, gossiped about me and kicked me on the chest.

I’ll never forget this incident because this is the first time I have ever experience something like this even outside of work.   I haven’t felt like this ever in my life before. That day I felt so afraid that I can’t sleep at night for a few weeks, I felt dirty and angry and when they were laughing at me I felt used  ‘little and without dignity, I also felt frustrated thinking that I can’t do anything about it, that I am powerless in this situation.

I came straight to the director of WCCC because that’s who I was advised to go to, and after talking to her a counselor was appointed to me while the director was writing a letter to my boss at work telling him:

That I am a client of the WCCC and informing him of my right to have a workplace that is safe and free of sexual harassment.

The counselor then documented my story, called the Ministry of Police Domestic Violence Unit to clarify some information and then we went into a counseling session. By the time we were finished the letter was ready and the centre delivered it to my work.

One of the reasons why I am so grateful to the centre, I didn’t know anything about my complaint if it wasn’t for the centre. After I made my complaint I went with my parent, my counselor and the male advocate of the centre to court, we met up with the prosecutor and he told us that he dropped the case of one of the men because there is not enough evidence and the other man will only be charged on one count. Luckily, the two staff of the centre were there to level with him. My counselor took me to the DVU unit again today to talk about my case and I am still unsatisfied but at the same time I am happy because the centre is there to help me, support me and make me feel good about myself, that I haven’t done anything wrong, and am empowered about this kind of situation. We are still working on my case.

I feel very lucky that I came to the centre, the way they talk to the police it made me feel courageous, I feel good about myself, have high self-esteem, that I am supported, I advice you women out there especially women at work places to speak up and break the silence, that’s the purpose of my taking this case to court. I don’t want to go through this again, and I don’t want it to happen to anyone at my work place or any other organization.    I am very grateful that I came to the centre and it was true that they help me a great deal. They did a great deal more than what I expected.


New year, new resolve

Happy 2011 to all of our WCCC friends!  2010 was definitely a challenging year for the WCCC and we are truly thankful that we have successfully survived our first year of operation.

 I must convey my sincere gratitude to Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre for their overwhelming support, mentoring and solidarity throughout 2010, and to Mama Cash and AusAid Canberra for their much needed financial assistance.

This year we enter with renewed energies and a strengthened passion to continue the work that we do for women, young girls and children all over Tonga – to eliminate violence in their lives, uphold their rights, voice their realities and document human rights violations in Tonga.  We are hopeful that CEDAW (United Nations Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) ratification is one step
closer with the support of the new Minister of Education, Women’s Affairs and Culture, Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki. We look forward to continuing to lobby for women’s rights to land and to encourage female leadership in all levels of our society.

Our campaign for this year is “It’s not ok”, highlighting the fact that gender based violence is never acceptable in any of its forms. We will continue to increase awareness about domestic violence and the
fact that no level of violence in the home is acceptable.  We are passionate about promoting the rights of children and providing education about child sexual abuse. We also look forward to developing sexual harassment policies in the workplace and raise awareness about rape and sexual abuse.

2011 is full of possibilities – help us to make the realities of women, girls and children happy and safe.


Minister Meets with Leaders of Women’s NGOs


Leaders of women’s Non Government Organisation groups in Tonga were the first group to
officially meet with the Minister of Education, Women’s Affairs and Culture, Hon. Dr. ‘Ana Taufe’ulungaki since taking up the portfolio in early January.

The meeting brought together nine leaders from various organisations, the Langafonua ‘a Fafine Tonga, the Civil Society Forum of Tonga, the Catholic Women’s League, the Talitha Project, the Tonga National
Centre for Women and Children, Ma’a Fafine mo e Famili, Women in Fisheries, the Women’s section of the Free Weslyan Church  and the Women and Children Crisis Centre.

WCCC Director, Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiki said “It is great to see a woman leading a ministry that plays a crucial role in determining the future of Tonga. Education and advancing the role of women are key areas that Tonga needs to elevate if we as a nation are to progress, especially to achieve human rights objectives that we have committed to such as Millenium Development Goal 3: to promote gender equality and empower women.”

In her capacity as the head of the Women Affairs and Culture department, Dr ‘Ana Maui Taufe’ulungaki will be responsible for the operation of the National Gender Policy and advancing the rights and
representation of women in Tonga in all levels of society.

There was an opportunity for each NGO leader to introduce their organisations to the Minister as well as raise critical issues and priorities.  The talanoa raised various discussion points such as a lack
of funding, social issues (violence against women, teenage pregnancy), economic barriers and development issues for women and political issues such as the push for CEDAW ratification.

The group also discussed the opportunity to present a submission to the current proceedings of the Land Commission.

The Minister has agreed to meet with this particular group once quarterly to address specific issues dealing with women’s overall empowerment and development in Tonga.

“When it comes to being represented in decision making decisions, women
are a minority group in Tonga. That makes the responsibility of the
Women’s Affairs and Culture portfolio even more important, to voice
the concerns of those female voices who are not heard” said

Key areas that the Women and Children Crisis Centre would like to see
promoted in the Women’s Affairs and Culture portfolio include:
•       Development of a Family Law Act
•       Development of a specific Domestic Violence Act
•       Implementation on the Ministry of Police National Domestic
Violence Policy
•       Development of Sexual Harassment Policies in Private
businesses, NGOs and CBOs
•       Gender training across all levels of society

Read more: http://wccrisiscentre.webnode.com/news/minister-meets-with-leaders-of-womens-ngos/
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