Case study: “My parents choice”

My parents arranged my marriage to a man 12 years older than me. He had a good job and was respected by everyone.  On our wedding day my parents sat me down and lectured me on the importance of being a responsible and dedicated wife, not only to my husband but to his family as well. I then moved to live with him, his mother and his oldest sister.

In the first week after the wedding, one of my best friends dropped in unexpectedly for a visit and asked if I would go with her to the market. I accepted and left a note for my husband, telling him where I was and why I was there. We were just strolling around the market doing my friend’s shopping when suddenly I was grabbed from behind and I looked up to see my husband there, obviously very angry with me. He had a grip on my left arm as he started punching my shoulder and furiously whispering that I should never have left the house without telling him. My best friend was very afraid and felt she couldn’t say anything as there were people all around. I shook off his hand and started running. Luckily I got away. I went straight to my parents’ home but they told me to go back to my husband. They said I should remain loyal and obedient to my husband because that was the right thing to do and eventually I would reap my blessings if I did so.

I returned but, from then on, my husband told me that I should ask his permission if I ever wanted to go out even if it was on an errand. If I didn’t abide by this he would choke, punch or kick me. I told my problems to a friend who was a former client of WCCC. I then called the Centre without my husband’s knowledge and was told I could come for counselling the following day. When my husband left for work the next day I went to the Centre.  In counseling I realized that I was in a dangerous, dominating relationship where my husband was the master and I was his slave.

The very next day I left my husband and went to live with my best friend who had a lot of brothers who would protect me from my husband’s threats and violence. The Center helped opened my eyes to the fact that I could be free from the ties and shackles that my parents made for me. Now I live with my best friend and have found a job that will support me in my decision to live my life in a safe and happy environment. Now my future looks bright.


Case study: “Do something to end violent relationship, if not, it will never end”

It had been seven years of married life. We have two kids, the eldest is in class one and the youngest is three years old.

Since 2013 there were a lot of problems in our marriage. I heard many stories about my husband having affairs but when I asked him he lied to me. My husband is a senior staff member working in a prominent workplace here in Tonga.

He was having an affair with a married woman in the same workplace. When I asked him about this he beat me up every time. Because I was really hurt days went by. I felt weak and my health was not good. I started to be mentally affected too.

My mother told me to let go of him, but because I still loved my husband, it was hard for me to get out of this violent relationship. I cried day and night but still he did not care.

I began to take my anger out on our kids. I treated them badly. I stopped my eldest child from going to school and I stopped myself from engaging in any of our religious function and obligations.

While I was suffering not knowing what to do, my mother in law and all my husband’s brothers interfered.

One day my husband went to work and forgot his phone. I picked up the phone, scrolled down and read all his dirty texts with this woman from his workplace.

When he came home after work I asked him about the text messages. He admitted it was true, that he was having an affair. He said he was sorry and asked me to forgive him. He said it was finished and that it would not happen again.

A short time later, I knew that the affair was continuing.  Honestly, I saw no hope that I would be able to leave him.  But the problems were getting worse and I could see that my daughters’ education and lives were being affected.

One day I met with one of my friends and told her what I was going through. My friend told me about the centre. She directed me to WCCC to seek help and support and I was very thankful that she directed me to the right place for help.

I had some counselling sessions. They gave me options which made me feel empowered to make decisions for myself. I am happy now. I had thought to myself that I would never get out of this violent relationship until I died, but NO I can.

I encourage all women who are stuck in a violent relationship like mine; the WCCC is there to help you. If you don’t do anything the violence will not stop.


Comment from the Director

There is still a lot of work to be done to end violence against women, children and girls in Tonga in order to improve their lives. The reality right now is that a survivor of domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment or child sexual abuse cannot be assured of access to safe, supportive, non-judgemental, confidential and professional services.  While the WCCC’s main objective is to provide response services that are professional and appropriate, we still face many challenges when dealing with other key response agencies.  This can include dealing with insensitive comments from the courts which place the blame on the survivor or trying to get frontline police to take reports from a survivor who has turned up at a local station to report an abuse rather than encouraging her to reconcile as a first response.  Survivors needing health services may have to wait for long periods in the general waiting area of the public hospital where there is no specific process for survivors of rape, incest, sexual assault or domestic violence.  We see a great need for more awareness and training for key response agencies as inappropriate responses continue to disempower women, children and girls and discourage them from reporting.  This year, on International Women’s Day, March 08th, with the help of UNWomen Fiji, we launched our WCCC Fanguna Radio Programme. This programme aims to allow anyone, in particular survivors, to write in about the violations they have experienced and to ask for help as to how best to move forward.   This has been a critical move by WCCC because it allows us to inform survivors about their options and to inform the public about the gaps and loopholes in Tonga, identifying where we need to improve response services. It is hoped that there will be more public support for improving services for survivors.  The Fanguna radio program runs every Tuesday evening on 87.5FM, so tune in if you have time, although it is in the Tongan language.  Please do enjoy our first quarter newsletter for 2016.


WCCC commemorates Family Month with schools chant competition

Women and Children Crisis Centre commemorates the Family Month which was marked in the month of May with a Government Primary School (GPS) Chant Competition at the Digicel Square on Friday 17th of June.

Eight primary schools participated in the competition: GPS Kolovai, GPS ‘Atele, GPS Ma’ufanga, GPS Fatai, GPS Longolongo, GPS Hoi, GPS Lapaha and GPS Nuku’alofa.

Their songs and chants were composed on the themes Peaceful and Happy Family at Home and Famili Melino mo Fiefia ‘i ‘Api – Stop violence anywhere.

There were four categories were judged in the competition; the best composition, best costume, best child cheer leader and the overall winner.

According to the WCCC Staff Team Leader, Mrs Lesila Lokotui To’ia, “I have noted the progress in the overall chanting competition, both in the composition and the childrens’ actions. It showed how they have get used to this annual event. It is the hope of the WCCC that these kids would internalise the messages, spread the messages that violence against women and children is a crime, and also to practice it in their lives that they would not become perpetrators of violence now or in the future.”

The chants and songs were directed to be within 3 to 5 minutes each and could be in either Tongan or English.  The group was required to include a mix of girls and boys.

The winners of the Singing and Chanting were;

First Prize TOP$1,000: Lapaha Primary School

Second Prize TOP$700: GPS ‘Atele

Third Prize: TOP$500: Nuku’alofa Primary School

The first school gained the first place in special prizes:  best composition and the best costume won by GPS ‘Atele. The best child cheer leader was awarded Halafo’ou Palanite of GPS Lapaha.

The Guest of honour, Hon. Lavinia Mata-‘o-Taone Ma’afu. The Chant Competition was funded by the Pacific Prevention of Domestic Violence Program (PPDVP) and UN Women Pacific Regional Ending Violence Against Women Facility Fund.


“I want them to become a peace makers where ever they are”

The WCCC’s Community Education Team (CET) carried out its awareness program to some of the secondary schools. This is one of the centre’s prevention and response program.

It is aimed at the secondary school students to identify factors that contribute to school dropout and not abling to achieve their educational goals. And this in fact lead to contributing factors to violence.

The deputy principal of Tailulu College commended the centre for the services that it offers also the program. “I hope that the program will assist the students individually to make wise and informed decisions not to tolerate and perpetuate violence. Not only here at school, but also in any place they are in. I want them to become peace makers where ever they are.”

The principal of Tupou High School Nukunuku branch said, “I thank so much WCCC. You come in just timely, as we have witnessed what you have just emphasized. Especially the problems that the school students face now a days. You are here helping us teachers, parents and students. Keep up the good work.”

Tapuni Siliva head tutor said, “You always bring us joy especially to us teachers whenever you are here. You are here to remind to these students of what we have teaches and told them every day in our morning devotion. We are happy because you bring with you facts and case studies as a witness to these students that these social problems is happen and it is real, and the numbers is increasing day to day. Thank you for sharing those good news, because we believe we cannot pray, pray, pray for changes, but we need to pray and do something. We have to work together to build up the lives of these young girls and boys so that they have a better future and some day they will become role models to other students and future young generation. ”

The Think Big Programs were being carried out in schools namely Havelu Middle School LDS, Kolovai and Vaini Government Middle School, Tailulu College, Tapunisiliva College and Tupou High School Nukunuku of the Free Weslyan Church.


Youth working together for the Healthy and Respectful Relationship Toolkit

The Youth Leaders training on Healthy and Respectful Relationships continued on with two days workshops on Wednesday 4th to Thursday 5th of May.

On the first day of the workshop, the participants carried out recaps on what was covered and proposed from the past workshops with youths. These topics included Gender Equality and Equity. The second phase of the session also covered review and amendments to the proposed TEN TIPS, RED FLAGS and BEST PRACTICES for the Healthy and Respectful Relationships Toolkit.

Toward the end of day, the participants were presented to the second motion of the workshop which is the identifying of the types of Communication strategies the group could use to get their toolkit out into the public. This session continued on to the next day where participants discussed and consider different forms of Communication strategies or media outlet they could use to convey their message to the general public. Here the group came up with two Media outlets which was forming a song for the TEN TIPS and RED FLAGS, and documenting a short film to identify the BEST PRACTICES. It was then decided that the workshop would first concentrate on composing the song and thus the participant were divided into two groups. Group 1 would compose the song as soon as possible. The second group was the Control and Test Group who would critique and review the song before it is released. The day ended with this new task at hand and the group where excited to begin their journey. ‘Ana who is a keen member of the group says, “I am so happy after this workshop because I now have a communication tool to use in order to get my message on Healthy and Respectful relationships to my fellow disability friends.” Mele Moala states that the various workshop has become something that she and her friends look forward to. “I’m always waiting for our next workshop to see what we can do next in trying to emphasize how we could build a better relationship between youths. It empowers me in a way because whenever my friends ask for relationship advice, I am ready with tons of advices and options learned from our various workshops. I also feel more confident with my choices and decisions made in my relationships.”


Implementing Domestic Violence Laws

The SPC RRRT facilitated a Regional Consultation on Gender and the Law specifically on the implementation of Domestic Violence Legislations in each country at the Tanoa Skylodge Hotel, Nadi Fiji from the 6th-10th of June.

The consultation had three main objectives. Firstly, was to discuss the link between human rights, gender equality and domestic violence. Secondly, to identify full application of Domestic Violence legislation and lastly to share experiences and lessons on using DV legislation to protect women and enable access to justice.

“This was really a good space for identifying the gaps in the full implementations of the DV legislation. It witnessed the barriers and challenges that we as Non-Governments face, while trying to achieve clients’ access to justice. A thorough and detailed role playing, discussions enabled us participants to see and recognise how the states failed to protect the survivors of violence.

Therefore it ended to find solutions to these problems”, said Lesila To’ia, WCCC Staff Team Leader.

The five days consultation closed with an outcome statement that has recommendations for the Pacific countries to re-visit their DV legislations and implementation plans.


Training with Doctors

In February this year WCCC was invited to provide a session for doctors at Vaiola Hospital, the main hospital in Nuku’alofa. Facilitated by Lesley Young, Volunteer Service Abroad Advisor with WCCC who has experience in the New Zealand Ministry  of Health Violence Intervention Programme, the session gave statistics for Tonga and covered health impacts of gender based violence, the dynamics of violent relationships and an introduction to the ‘World Health Organisation clinical and policy Guidelines for Responding to Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence against women’.

The seventeen doctors who participated in the session showed different levels of understanding and this provided the opportunity for questions and useful discussion of a variety of issues. In most countries medical education does not address violence against women so many health professionals continue to see this as a criminal justice issue rather than a health concern. As they gained understanding the Head Psychiatrist stated “so what you are talking about is preventive psychiatry”.

The doctor in charge of the Outpatients  department supported the work of WCCC noting that,   in her work she saw the need for women to have a safe ‘women only’ place to go, where they can get help and know the perpetrator will not be able to access them.

Since employing a nurse as part of the  one-stop team WCCC has noted improved liaison with health services and it is hoped this session will assist with better health services for our clients.