British High Commissioner visits WCCC

The British High Commissioner, Mr Roderick paid a courtesy call to the WCCC office during his visit to Tonga on Friday 18th of March.

His Excellency and his associate were welcomed and received by the Staff Team Leader and the staff. He commended the centre for the good work done in the area of ending violence against women and in promoting Gender Equality.

He is looking forward to visiting the centre again in the future. He passed the centre his well wishes and offered his assistance if needed, especially in the area of women’s empowerment.

 

Consultation on Convention on the Rights of the Child

WCCC participated in a recent consultation on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which  was organized by the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children and facilitated by the South Pacific Community/Regional Rights Resource Team.

During the sessions topics such as forming a child protection policy were also explored. Different scenarios of  how children can be abused were looked at. This was followed by discussion identifying what work needs to be done to protect children’s rights. Participants identified the need to have a National Child Policy and the need to work together as a group to plan the way  forward for this Convention.

 

To encourage women candidates for local government election

WCCC was part of the International Women’s Day Planning Committee which organised an event to mark International Women’s Day 2016. This was a two day workshop for women from two islands in the kingdom.

Because  the local government election will be held this year the planning committee thought this would be an opportunity to invite women who would be possible candidates for  local government to take part.

The majority of these women were from Tongatapu. Some have experience as Town Officers in their respective villages.

The workshop included guest speakers from various fields. These women panellists shared their skills, knowledge and experiences with the participants.

The participants were very happy to learn new ideas from these women leaders.

They were  also pleased to know that they have support from government ministries and NGOs which advocate for women’s empowerment and leadership.

One of the participants said, “I am very thankful for this workshop. It really encouraged me to decide to run in this election.

I am looking forward for it, and I have get ready and start preparing now.”

 

Making it easier for health professionals to help victims

The World Health Organisation’s Clinical and Policy guidelines for responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women state:

“Women who have been subjected to violence often seek health care, including for their injuries, even if they do not disclose the associated abuse or violence.

A health care provider is likely to be the first professional contact for survivors of intimate partner violence or sexual assault. Statistics show that abused women use health care services more than non-abused women do. They also identify health care providers as the professionals they would most trust with disclosure of abuse.”

WCCC has developed resources to make it easier for health staff to identify when abuse is happening and to refer women on to WCCC services. All health clinics, health centres and women and children’s hospital services have been provided with a poster, pamphlets and WCCC referral forms.

The pamphlet gives information on different types of abuse. This is important for health services which tend to focus primarily on physical wellbeing. As well as physical abuse, the pamphlet describes emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It identifies women’s rights to equality and respect and that the perpetrator is responsible for his behaviour. It then gives contact details for WCCC and reassurance that help is available. The poster identifies services available at WCCC and gives all contact options.

A referral form was developed in consultation with the Ministry of Health. It includes details required by WCCC and reminds health staff that referrals can be made at any time by phone, email or hand delivered to the office.

The health professional identifies the reason for referral by circling services provided and/or client presenting issues. It is hoped this will also be a reminder to health staff of the breadth of services provided by WCCC.

Many were pleased to be reminded that WCCC provides home visits for counselling when clients are unable to get to the office.

The photo shows Paea Hingaro, Health Officer at Houma Health Centre holding the poster given by Lesieli Tatafu, WCCC Nurse Advisor.

 

Human Rights and Gender refresher session with WCCC staff

The Director of WCCC, ‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki, facilitated a two day workshop for WCCC staff on the 11th and 12th of February, 2016.

The training was carried out as a recap on two of the most fundamental values of the Centre;  Human Rights and Gender Equality.

The workshop allowed staff to  revisit  these two concepts, looking at how they include them in their work, everyday lives and future planning for the centre.

“It was most refreshing to  go over the concepts of Gender Equality because it has helped revitalized my belief in what I preach at work and, why I should practice what I preach wherever I go, whether it is in public or in the privacy of my home and family”. Stated Sela Sausini, one of the Centre’s Counselors after participating in the two day recap.

Aspects such as causes of domestic violence, risk and protective factors of domestic violence and  looking at why domestic violence occurs in Tonga were covered.  The training helped staff renew their commitment to ending violence against women and children of Tonga. Most importantly it has ensured that the WCCC staff continue using a Gender analysis and Human Rights approach to every task they carry out.

 

A Tool kit for media personnel

A two day workshop for media personnel focussed on reporting on Violence Against Women and Girls was held as a follow up to  a workshop held last year. It ended  with the official launch by Lady Luseanne Luani, President of Tonga Media Council, of a Tool kit: ‘Tips For Media Practitioners on Reporting on Violence Against Women and Girls in Tonga’

The journalists received tips in Tongan and in English for reporting on violence against women and children in Tonga.

Mrs Aterina Samasoni-Pele, a National Professional Officer from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Samoa said the meeting  aimed to establish a relevant resource based on the experience and knowledge of Tongan media practitioners, to guide them throughout their work on these  issues.

The Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre in Tonga, ‘Ofa Guttenbeil Likiliki said the workshop followed on from the media training on violence against women held last year with UNESCO.   “This is the first time  Tonga has had this kind of training. It is a  sign that the Tongan media is progressive and they want a tool-kit to direct them in doing their job. We have helped  the journalists and media practitioners draft the tool-kit. By being part of it, sharing  our experiences and the experiences of victims, the journalists can better understand the impact of violence on women and children’s lives.  It is also important to inform journalists about government commitments to end violence against women and children,” she said.

Ms Guttenbeil Likiliki co facilitated the workshop with Mrs. Aterina Samasoni-Pele. The workshop was held  at the Tungi Colonnade Building Conference Room and was co-funded by UNESCO and  WCCC.

 

New radio programme to commemorate International Women’s Day, 2016

WCCC launched a new Radio Program on the 8th of March to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day. The program is called  ‘Fanguna’ which means ‘to  awaken’. In Tonga many people deny, or are unaware of, the extent of domestic violence. The programme aims to convey  to the public the truth about domestic violence in Tonga.

The  radio program enables individuals affected by domestic violence and gender based oppression to send their stories anonymously to be discussed  by a panel of members of the center.

The reading and discussion of the letters and stories are recorded.  The recording is edited before being released. For the first radio program held to mark  International Women’s Day, the panel included  members of WCCC;  the Director and representatives from the One Stop Team, who  discussed and gave advice on the first three letters received.

Since then Fanguna has become a regular weekly radio programme aired every Tuesday night at 7:00p.m. The panel discussion is hosted by Mrs. Lesila Lokotui To’ia the Deputy Director of the Centre. The panel is selected from members of the One Stop Team, Male advocates and a representative from the WCCC Community Education Training and Advocacy Team. They all participate in  analyzing  the letters and discussing possible  solutions for the issues raised.

The panel discussion format allows a range of views.  It is hoped that the discussion will provide hope and guidance for individuals affected by violence as well as broad public education.

Providing radio programmes enables WCCC to reach a wider audience than in previous activities going out to local communities.

So far, WCCC has received regular letters from the public seeking advice and information through the ‘Fanguna’ radio program. It is fair to say that the radio program has  lived up to its’ name by continuing to raise the voices of those affected by domestic violence, allowing their  stories to break the silence and end the violence.