A health response to violence against women

The World Health Organisation* notes that ‘although violence against women has been accepted as a critical public health and clinical care issue, it is still not included in the healthcare policies of many countries’. WHO also state that ‘Healthcare professionals tend to regard violence against women as a criminal justice issue, and view partner violence in particular as a domestic matter’ and that ‘they are ill-equipped to deal with the issues, since medical and nursing education in many countries does not address this problem’.

WCCC is working to address these issues in Tonga.  WCCC Nurse, Lesieli Tatafu, and Volunteer Service Abroad Advisor, Lesley Young, have been liaising with various professionals in the Ministry of Health with the aim of improving co-ordination of services for clients. Following a meeting with Tilema Kama, Principle of the Queen Salote School of Nursing, an education session was provided for teachers at the School of Nursing.

This session covered the health impacts of gender based violence, the dynamics of violent relationships, an introduction to the WHO clinical and policy guidelines and some suggestions on how to ask women about their experience of violence.

The training was well received and the school is now planning to include violence against women and gender equality in the nursing curriculum.  WCCC will provide the training for nursing students.

As healthcare providers are often the first point of contact for women experiencing violence and are seen as trusted professionals, it is important that they are able to recognise signs of violence and respond in safe and appropriate ways.

*World Health Organisation, Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women: WHO policy and clinical guidelines 2013.


First Aid training for Women and Children Crisis Centre

A two day First Aid training, provided by The Tonga Red Cross Society, was attended by all  staff  of the Women and Children Crisis Centre . First aid training teaches a wide range of skills in assessing and responding to a variety of injuries, illnesses and medical emergencies. WCCC staff learned basic first aid techniques, such as how to deal with neck, head and back injuries. They also explored how to treat people who have been exposed to extreme weather conditions as well as caring for scrapes, burns and cuts.

“First aid is used in the case of an emergency. It is important for you to apply what is appropriate in your area, utilising  the resources you have and making sure you know what are you doing”, said the facilitator Mrs Latavao. During the training WCCC staff learned methods to use in the vital first moments after an  emergency has occurred. The skills they studied will help them to keep people in optimal condition until  medical professionals are able to take charge. Staff gained practical experience through scenario-based training focused on emergency assessment, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), Automated external defibrillator (AED), airway management, trauma and other emergency medical services (EMS).

“As a  first aider, we never declare that someone is dead. We continue to provide help until we get to the hospital and/or the assistance of  a medical professional or a doctor. They are the only one who can declare if someone is dead”, stated Latavao. Through the training, staff learned first responder techniques in order to respond to problems such as hypothermia and related illness. They also learned how to manage burns, joint and bone injuries, wound infections and to care  for spinal injuries. Staff also learned sports related injury prevention and First aid skills. These included injury assessment, action protocols, controlling bleeding, treating concussion and moving an injured athlete. Life saving techniques for CPR and managing a patient’s airway were also covered. On completion of the two days training WCC staff were each presented with a first aid certificate which  is valid for two years.  WCCC Director, ‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki said “We are pleased to  acknowledge Tonga Red Cross Society for their time and effort in sharing knowledge and practical skills. This is very helpful for us as we are deal with women and children who are victims of violence and abuse”. The two days training was facilitated by Katokakala Latavao and Silongo Fakasi’I’eiki from Tonga Red Cross Society.


Red flags exist within relationship

A two day follow up workshop for Faith-based Youth leaders was successfully conducted on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th of September 2015.

The follow up training was carried out to recap and build on  the ideas and concepts of the earlier youth workshop based on the theme “Healthy and Respectful Relationships between youth”. Several of the  leading participants from the previous workshop took part in identifying 15 new ‘Red Flags’ to be aware of in a relationship.

These included;

¨ Power and Control

¨ Violence

¨ Jealousy

¨ Disrespect

¨ Bad Temper

¨ Dishonesty

¨ Miscommunication

¨ Selfishness

¨ Demeaning labeling

¨ Unspiritual

¨ Insecurities and negativity

¨ A relationship that has detrimental impact on your studies

¨ You don’t glow

¨ Significant members of families and friends disagree with the relationship

¨ Being emotionally disinvested

One of the participants, ‘Ofa Latu shared that she has actually seen these ‘Red Flags’ existing within relationships of some of her closest friends. “It is very important to get these prevention tips out to the youth of Tonga. I have friends who are controlled, demeaned and even physically abused by their boyfriends. I see this workshop as a chance for us to, not only give youth an early detection device for a bad relationship, but also to acknowledge whether their relationship is a healthy one or not.”

The workshop included interviews and documentation of case studies of couples who have successful relationships. The task was to identify from these interviews, some of the Best Practices for a healthy and respectful relationship. The task revealed the following practices;

¨ Having genuine love in the relationship

¨ Having a genuine intimate relationship

¨ Genuine forgiveness when there has been misunderstandings within the relationship

¨ Knowing the fact that no one is perfect

¨ Avoiding bringing up of past ills

¨ Accepting the low times

¨ Being physically attracted to each other

It was decided on the last day that a follow up workshop would be carried out within two weeks on the constructive and healthy approach for the Dating phase and, most importantly, the factors that one must deal with during the Break up phase. It is expected that by the upcoming 3rd workshop, participants will bring further dialogue on the most appropriate and effective ways of dealing with these two important phases of a relationship.

‘Ana Talakai a member of the Naunau ‘Alamaite ‘o Tonga Association stated ,  “Many disabled young men take their relationship much more seriously than the average male youth, when there is a fall out in the relationship their first solution would often be suicide. This workshop would give knowledge and skills enabling any boys and girls to handle their relationships with a much healthier outlook even if it ends. It will help them see that life still goes on after a breakup”.

We are looking forward to the next workshop which is scheduled for Thursday 24th to Friday 25th of September. Participants will come up with communication strategies they could use in order to get this information out to the youth of Tonga.

An overall aim of these various workshops on Healthy and Respectful Relationships is that at the end a Tool Kit for the youth of Tonga will be launched.

Meesi Kafalava expressed the significance of having a Healthy and Respectful Relationship Tool Kit. She sees that young men and women of Tonga could use these guidelines and methods for a happy and worthwhile relationship with their partners or spouse. “An upside to having this Tool Kit is that young men and women won’t need to take those unnecessary risks with the choices they make in their relationships. Instead they can follow guidelines and strategies already set out in the tool Kit, as in the Ten Tips, Red Flags and Best Practices of a Healthy and Respectful Relationship. That is the significance of having this Tool Kit.”

‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, the Director of the WCCC states “the purpose of these workshops is to identify, with the youth, the best way to address difficulties that they go through in their relationships. This will prevent others from needing to use WCCC services  in the future because of the poor choices that uninformed youth sometimes take.”

This workshop was funded by UN Women.


‘Think Big or Ope atu Ho’o Fakakaukau’ with Big Brother Big Sister Program

Think Big or Ope Atu Ho’o Fakakaukau is a concept that WCCC came up with to encourage students at secondary school level to step outside of their comfort zones and start thinking about their future. The concept was developed into a deliverable information session for secondary schools which now makes up part of our prevention programs. The majority of secondary schools in Tonga do not have Career Counsellors or delegated staff who have the skills to guide students on a rarer path. There are also a multitude of issues that act as major barriers to students completing secondary school that impede on their ability to ‘think big’.

These issues range from cyber bullying, school bullying, all forms of violence at school, all forms of violence at home and the lack of the student’s ability as a result to form healthy and respectful relationships in school and outside of school. Think Big information sessions in Secondary Schools are connected to WCCC’s Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS) program. In this programme students are able to sign up for a big brother or big sister to help guide and mentor them through their challenging secondary school experiences and to be encouraged by their BBBS brother or sister to think bigger and develop goals that they can realistically achieve. “We take the students through real life scenarios during the Think Big information sessions where they can reflect on how they have been impacted by the situations described in each scenario. Perhaps a friend has experienced difficulties and we show them how these situations and experiences can have a negative impact on their ability to complete secondary school or how it impacts on their ability to develop good healthy respectful relationships with others. The programme aims to get them to think of the bigger picture and hence think bigger in terms of how they want their lives to turn out”, says ‘Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki, Director WCCC.

The overall objective is, that in the end, students are empowered to look for help and that they are informed about the services and programs that are available in Tonga including the counselling support services and the BBBS program with WCCC. Ultimately it is in their hands to make the decision whether to seek further information or help in terms of signing up for programs that ate available to help guide them. “The WCCC believes that when young people are given good guidance the chances of completing their studies increase. When this happens they are more willing to develop goals to achieve and when they can get to this stage it leaves little room for getting themselves involved in violent and bullying behaviour”, says Lesila To’ia, WCCC Community Education Advocate and Staff Team Leader.

The Think Big or Ope Atu Ho’o Fakakaukau initiative was piloted with four secondary schools in 2015: ‘Apifo’ou College, Tonga College and Tupou High School.  The feedback was positive from both secondary school students and teaching staff.  It is anticipated that WCCC will carry out the initiative among 10 more secondary schools in 2016.  “Ultimately, we want to roll out The Think Big or Ope Atu Ho’o Fakakaukau initiative as a school holiday program whereby WCCC will run sessions for students referred to us by the schools but for this to happen we need to get the buy-in from the teaching staff to make the referrals happen – when a kid has someone who is genuinely interested in them and showing support and praise that is otherwise missing from their lives – this can make such a huge difference and sometimes the difference between getting in trouble with the law later on in life or actually achieving goals and dreams”,  says Guttenbeil-Likiliki

For more information on this initiative please contact Soana Pongi at WCCC on 22240.


A Foreigner Living in Tonga Helped Through WCCC and FWCC Collaboration

The client thought she was in a hopeless situation because she was living in Tonga, which was a foreign country for her. She felt rejected by her husband who had brought her here. She described her life as being a second class citizen in their marriage. Her husband was on a well-paid salary but she was given little or no funds for herself or their child, who was born in Tonga. He would refuse to give her any money and would often make her beg for it. She also had limited contact with people like friends, family and neighbours because her husband stopped her from communicating with them. She eventually found out that her husband was having an affair with his co-worker. After she approached him about it, he contacted an immigration officer to request that they revoke her visa so she could be deported back to her country. She was shocked to receive a letter from the Immigration Office stating that her visa was going to be revoked and that she had to leave the country. He planned for her to leave their daughter with him, while having his wife deported. She confided in a neighbour, fearing the worst. The neighbour referred her to the WCCC.

“I felt so relieved when I came in for my first visit. I thanked God that he sent me to the right people. I was told by my husband that the immigration officer would come and remove me from Tonga on the first flight out on the following day. WCCC contacted their counterpart overseas, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre to see if they could help out in this case. The assistance provided by the WCCC through the FWCC was financial support to urgently appoint a lawyer to prevent my removal and to prevent my separation from my 3 year old daughter. I eventually filed for divorce, custody and maintenance.” The client has now returned to her home country with her daughter.

Providing Safety for Girls

Pela* grew up with her little sister in one of the outer islands. They moved to the main island when their mother married a man in Tongatapu. Pela is 13 and her sister is 11. They don’t go to school. Pela and her sister stayed home with their mum and stepfather. The plantation was being looked after by their stepfather. After a few months in Tongatapu, their stepfather’s behaviour changed. He always asked Pela to go to the plantation with him where he raped her. She was very scared and could not call for help, because he told her if she said a word he would kill her. He threatened to do the same to her little sister if she told anyone. So she stayed silent. Pela lived in fear for months, and found out her stepfather was doing the same to her little sister. They were both very scared of him, and they didn’t know how to tell their mum. Pela’s mum found out after a woman who was having an affair with her husband told her that she knew what he had been doing with the daughters. Pela’s mum was shocked and asked the girls if it was true. They told her everything that he had done.

Pela’s mum went straight to WCCC to seek help. The Counsellor told them about WCCC’s services including the police officer stationed at the centre, and they filed a statement at the WCCC office. The 2 girls stayed at the Safehouse for a few months until their court hearing. All the staff of the WCCC worked together with the Police Department for the safety of these two sisters. The stepfather was arrested and pleaded guilty. He died while in prison waiting for sentencing. The family moved back to the outer island.  The Centre is still in contact with them to provide ongoing counselling.

*The name of the client have been changed to protect the clients’ identity.

WCCC Media Release – Great opportunity for Prime Minister to appoint a female to Ministerial post



Great opportunity for Prime Minister to appoint a female to Ministerial post

 [NUKU’ALOFA 10 February 2016] There is no better time than the present for the Prime Minister to consider appointing a female to a Ministerial portfolio, following the dismissal of ‘Etuate Lavulavu from his Ministerial portfolio.

A little more than 12 months ago, Prime Minister ‘Akilisi Pohiva received his first petition from the public calling for the appointment of women to Ministerial posts.  This came after no woman was elected into parliament following the 2014 General Elections.  The petition asked that the PM use his prerogative under the law to appoint up to four Ministerial posts externally.

In response to the petition holding 416 signatures gathered less than 48 hours, the PM told the petitioners to come up with legislation to change the situation in preparation for the next general elections.

In Tonga’s Political history the late Queen Salote and her government had given women the right to vote and stand as candidates since 1951. From 1951, it took 8 parliamentary terms or another 24 years before we saw the first women elected into Parliament and that was HRH Princess Mele Siu’ilikutapu in 1975-1978 as one of the People’s Representatives from Tongatapu

  • Three years later in 1978-1981 or the next parliamentary session – the second women elected into parliament, People’s Representative of Tongatapu, Papiloa Foliaki
  • From 1981, 14 years later for the period of 1995-1998: the third women elected into parliament and first women to be elected as PR to the Niuas, ‘Ofa Fusitu’a
  • From 1998, seven years later for the period of 2005-2008: the fourth and currently the last women elected into parliament – Niuas PR, Lepolo Mahe Taunisila
  • and in the last two general elections under the new democratic reforms no women have been elected in, so we could say that from 2008 (the last elections under the old system) plus the 2010 and 2014 general election a total of 6 years we have no women elected into parliament by the people

So in summary since 1951 up until the last general elections held in 2014 a total of 63 years, there have only ever been four women elected by the people into parliament.

A group that has been formed on Facebook called TONGAN WOMEN IN ACTION is a social network open to all Tongan women in Tonga, New Zealand, United States of America, United Kingdom and the diaspora, women living or residing in Tonga and male friends, colleagues, partners who support the cause of increasing women’s political participation. Their one mission: To build solidarity amongst women in progressing women’s political participation in Tonga. Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) and one of the facilitators of the groups says that the WCCC has been undertaking research into the what best model for Tonga would look like in terms of affirmative action and Temporary Special Measure, “yes we are doing research and we won’t have the results and recommendations ready until the later part of this year – but this is a great opportunity – right now – for the PM to re-look at the possibilities emerging out of the current situation to appoint a female to a Ministerial post”, says ‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki.



Faingamalie lelei ki he Palemia ke ne fokotu’u ha fefine

ki he tu’unga Minisita

[NUKU’ALOFA 10 Fepueli 2016] Ko e taimi lelei taha pe eni ‘ae lolotonga ni ke ngaaue’aki ‘ehe Palemia ‘a hono mafai ke fokotu’u ki he ‘Ene ‘Afio ha fefine kihe lakanga Minisita ‘e taha ‘i he ‘ene Kapineti ‘i he mahino mai kuo tuku ki tu’a ‘a ‘Etuate Lavulavu mei hono lakanga Minisita.

‘I ha ki’i taimi nounou ‘i he mahina ‘e 12 kuohili, na’e ma’u ai ‘e he ‘Eiki Palemia ‘a e fuofua tohi tangi mei he kakai ke fili ha fefine ki he lakanga Minisita. Na’e hoko eni hili ia ‘a e ‘ikai ke fili ha fefine ki Fale Alea ‘i he Fili ‘o e 2014. Koe tohi tangi, ko e kole ki he Palemia ke ne ngaue’aki hono mafai ‘i he malumalu ‘o e lao ke fili ha lakanga Minisita ‘e toko 4 mei tu’a.

‘I he tali ki he tohi tangi na’e fakamo’oni ki ai ‘ae toko 416 ‘i hono tanaki pe ‘i loto ‘i he houa ‘e 48, na’e me’a ai ‘a e Palemia ki he ni’ihi na’a nau fakahu atu ‘a e tohi tangi ke nau fokotu’u mai ha lao ke liliu ‘aki ‘ae tu’unga ‘oku ‘i ai ke fai ha vakai ki ai ki mu’a pea toki fakahoko ‘ae fili falealea hoko.

‘I he hisitolia fakapolitikale ‘a Tonga, ko e pule’anga ‘o Kuini Salote kuo unga fonua, na’a ne ‘oange ‘a e totonu ma’ae kakai fefine kenau fili pea ke nau hoko ko ha kanititeiti ‘i he 1951. Mei he 1951, ko e to’u fili falealea fakakatoa ‘e 8 pe koe toe ta’u ‘e 24 ia kimu’a pea tau toki a’usia hono fili ha fefine ki Fale Alea ‘a ia ko Pilinisesi Mele Siu’ilikutapu Kalaniuvalu Fotofili ‘ihe 1975-1978 ke hoko ko e taha ‘o e kau fakafofonga ‘o e kakai ‘o Tongatapu;

  • Hili ha ta’u ‘e 3 mei ai, ‘i he 1978-1981 pe ko e to’u fili hono hoko, na’e fili ai ‘a e fefine hono ua ki falealea, ko e fakafofonga ‘o e kakai ‘o Tongatapu, Papiloa Foliaki
  • Mei he 1981, hili ia ‘a e ta’u ‘e 14 mei he ta’u 1995-1998, na’e fili ai ‘a e fefine hono tolu ki Fale Alea pea ko e fakafofonga ‘o e kakai kihe ongo Niua, ‘Ofa Fusitu’a
  • Mei he 1998, hili ia ‘a e ta’u ‘e 7 mei he 2005-2008, ko e fefine hono fa ia pea ko e fefine fakamuimui taha ia kuo fili ki Fale Alea, pea na’a ne hoko ko e fakafofonga ‘o e kakai ‘o e ongo Niua, Lepolo Mahe Taunisila
  • pea ‘i he ongo to’u fili ‘e ua kuo’osi ‘i he fa’unga temokalati fo’ou, na’e ‘ikai ha fefine ‘e fili ki loto. Ko ia ai, ‘e lava ke tau pehe, mei he 2008 (ko e fili fakamuimui taha ‘i he fa’unga pule’anga motu’a) tanaki atu ki ai ‘a e to’u fili ‘o e 2010 mo e 2014, ko e ta’u fakakatoa ia ‘e 6 na’e ‘ikai ai ha fefine ‘e fili ki Fale Alea ‘e he kakai.

Koia ‘i hono fakama’opo’opo talu mei he 1951 ‘o a’u mai ki he to’u fili fakamuimui taha ‘ihe 2014, ko e ta’u fakakatoa ia ‘e 63, pea ko e toko fa pe ai ‘a e kakai fefine kuo fili ‘e he kakai ki Fale Alea.

Na’e fo’u ha kulupu fengaue’aki fakasosiale ‘i he Feisipuka ‘o fakalea ko e KAKAI FEFINE TONGA KE NGAUE pe ‘i he faka-Pilitania TONGAN WOMEN IN ACTION, ‘o faka’ata ki ha fefine Tonga pe ‘i Tonga ni, Nu’u Sila, ‘Aositelelia, ‘Amelika, Pilitania mo ha feitu’u pe ‘oku nofo ai ha fefine Tonga, kaungame’a tangata, kaunga ngaue, hoa ngaue ‘oku teke mo poupou’i ke toe fakalakalaka ange ‘a e kau ‘a fefine ‘i he mala’e ‘o e politikale. Ko ‘enau misiona: Ke langa hake ke tu’u fakataha ‘ae uouongataha ‘a fafine ‘i hono fakalakalaka ‘enau kau atu ki he mala’e ‘oe politikale ‘i Tonga.

Fakatatau ki he Talekita ‘oe Women and Children Crisis Centre, ko e taha ‘o e kau Taki ‘o e fevahevahe’aki ‘i he kulupu ni, ‘oku fakahoko ‘e he Senita ‘a e fekumi pe ko e ha ha founga pe motolo lelei taha ma’a Tonga ‘i hono ngaue’aki ‘o ha sea fakataimi ma’a e kakai fefine ‘i he fili falealea, “’io ‘oku lolotonga fai ‘emau fekumi ki ai ka ‘e toki mahino ‘ae ola pea mo e ngaahi fokotu’u fakakaukau ‘i he konga kimui ‘o e ta’u ni, ka koe faingamalie lelei eni ‘i he lolotonga ni ma’a e Palemia ke ne toe vakai’i e faingamalie ko eni ‘e malava ai kene fokotu’u ha fefine ki he lakanga Minisita, ko e lau ia ‘a ‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki.