WCCC Media Release 4 – Male Advocacy Stage 2 Training on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

 

SEX IS NOT A TABOO TOPIC

 [NUKU’ALOFA 24 AUGUST 2017] Sex is not a topic that is easily talked about in Tonga because of cultural and religious restrictions, yet with all the restrictions surrounding the topic, the number of sexual violations against women and girls tends to be on the increase. “If sex is a taboo topic and we revere it as something sacred that can be discussed between a husband and wife, then how do we explain the high number of teenage unwanted pregnancies, the increase in sexually transmitted diseases and the increase in reported sexual violations including rape and incest?” asked Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) Director, ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki.

Discussions around Men and Sex was one of the key topics of Day 4 of the Male Advocacy Training on Ending All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls, Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights.  “when it comes to sex, unfortunately women are often used as sexual objects and are seen as such, she is not seen as a human, and when this is the case the woman in the relationship must follow all instructions, i.e. when and how the man wants it, and the sexual relationship then becomes the man’s domain and the women’s feelings and wants is disregarded,” said lead trainer Melkie Anton to the group of men attending the second stage of the training.

The three key messages for male advocates to promote about men and sex are: men do have control over how they behave sexually, all sexual activity should be by mutual consent, and men are equally responsible for contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.  “You must also understand that in a situation where the woman does not want to have sex but you continue to persist and persuade her to have sex, this is a high risk situation as it can be considered sexual assault or rape, and you cannot use the justification that as a man you couldn’t control your urges” said Guttenbeil-Likiliki to the group.

Tito Kivalu, who is one of the inaugural six male advocates of the WCCC, gave the men a scenario: “if you are sexually aroused and have the mentality that as a man you cannot control your sexual urges and you are about to have sex with your wife or girlfriend in your house and the house is set alight and a fire breaks out – will you continue to have sex or will you stop and run in fear for your safety?  The same goes if you are about to have sex and your child or a relative knocks on your door or walks in unannounced to your house – do you continue or stop almost immediately?”  It soon became obvious to the men attending the training that it is indeed possible for a man to control how he behaves sexually.

Other issues discussed by the men was the fact that men are often in competition in relation to sex where they are only interested in proving to their masculinity to peers and friends by bragging and boasting about how many women they have had sexual relations with as opposed to creating or developing intimate and mutually respectful relationship with one woman, again a clear example of viewing woman as just a sexual object.  According to one male participant, “sex is biblical and if we are true Christians as we like to profess we must then do according to what is said in the bible, that sex should be an act experienced between husband and wife based upon respect, love and mutual consent, and both parties must enjoy the act and now just one, when this is not the case, the sexual activity then is unbiblical,” said one male participant.

The second stage is financially supported by Australian Aid (DFAT), UNWomen Pacific Regional Ending Violence Against Women Facility Fund and the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women (PWNAVAW) [ENDS]

For more information please contact Tupou Mahe Lanumata on 22240.

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WCCC Media Release 3 – Male Advocacy Stage 2 training on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

A DEEPER LOOK AT MEN’S VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

[NUKU’ALOFA 23 AUGUST 2017] Coercive Control was the focus of the Male Advocacy Training on Day 3, currently being held in Nuku’alofa, Tonga.  The men were taken through the four main aspects of coercive control; violence, intimidation, control and isolation.  Each aspect was unpacked and looked at deeper by the participants whilst at the same time relating the examples discussed back to gender and women’s human rights.  The Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) counselling staff were present to give real case studies in Tonga so that the men could contextualize coercive control examples and address the key points arising from the case.

Coercive control violence can cover situations where a man beats up his wife if he sees her talking to other men – even if the wife is talking to a male work colleague.  Or it could be where a man forces his wife to watch pornography and demands that his wife perform the acts that she sees in the film and if she disagrees, she gets bashed up or raped.  Or where a man beats up his wife causing obvious physical injuries so that it can prevent her from going to a particular event that she was planning to go to.

Intimidation examples discussed by the men covered situations where a man ruins any opportunity for his wife to get a promotion at work by refusing to let her attend meetings after hours, or meetings to the outer islands or regional meetings.  Or where a man tells his wife that she is ugly, stupid, no good in bed or a useless cook and that if she left him no other man would want her.  Or where the man turns up to his wife’s workplace unannounced and hangs around outside or where he calls and texts her threatening messages, for example, “if you don’t come out at 4:30pm on the dot you’re going to get it!”

Examples of control covered situations where a man locks his wife in the house or the bedroom when he leaves the house or where he controls the amount of food that is consumed by his wife.  Or where the man constantly checks his wife’s mobile, emails and other forms of communication, keeps control of her finances by keeping her ATM card and where the wife must get prior approval from her husband before she is to spend any money.  Other examples also covered situations where the man controls what his wife or girlfriend wears, or where he actually destroys her clothes by ripping it or burning it, insists to take her to work each day and insists to pick her up from work and if he calls her at any time of the day she must answer the call by the second ring or third ring.  Or where the man threatens to file for custody of the children if she decides to leave him.

In terms of isolation, the men discussed examples where a man tells his wife that she is not beautiful as other woman in the village or in the choir and that he is ashamed of how how ugly she is so she is told to stay home.  Or where a man uses verses from the bible to justify keeping her at home, disconnects the telephone or takes her mobile phone away from her, turns off the radio when women’s programs come on, for example the Fanguna Radio program.  Other examples looked at included situations where a husband prevents his wife from visiting her own family and cuts her off from her some of her closest friends and doesn’t allow them to visit her or where he doesn’t allow his wife to be part of women’s groups in the village.

According to one of the participants, Tapinga Lavemaau, “I now realize the different ways of coercive control and its huge damage to the lives of women just of that mentality that we have as a men towards women and we use that power to control over them and to me is a huge problem in the family and our society especially in relationship as husband and wife or girlfriend and boyfriend. I wish men realize how that power violates the rights and the lives of women, and to me husband and wife should have an equal relationship because we men and women were born with equal rights in the image of God and we should be treated equally.”

Siua Mafile’o, “The woman has been beaten, threaten to kill and locked up or isolated from everyone … by listening to all the discussion we have since day one on violence against women and the case studies we listen to from the Crisis Centre, it’s all go back to coercive control but we men have use many excuses to justify violence, and we need to change it and I know it will be hard because we were brought up to believe that we men must be in control all the time.”

The second stage is financially supported by Australian Aid (DFAT), UNWomen Pacific Regional Ending Violence Against Women Facility Fund and the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women (PWNAVAW) [ENDS]

For more information please contact Tupou Mahe Lanumata on 22240.

Participants at Tungi Colonnade Conference Room Level 2, Day 3.

WCCC Medial Release 2 – Male Advocacy Stage 2 Training on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

“YOU WILL NEED TO FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE IF YOU WANT TO BECOME A MALE ADVOCATE – ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO THAT?ASKS LEAD TRAINER

[NUKUALOFA 22 August 2017] Being a Male Advocate on Ending All Forms of Violence Against Women and Girls, Gender Equality and Women’s Human Rights is not an easy role in fact you have to be prepared to feel uncomfortable because we will be taking a deep look at our male privileges, our power and how use that to control women,” said Lead Trainer, Melkie Anton, to the group of men participating in the second stage of the Male Advocacy Training in Nuku’alofa.  From the first Male Advocacy training held in Tonga in 2007 with approximately 40 men, a total of 8 men showed interest to continue and successfully completed all three stages in Fiji.  With the second recruitment and all the 3 stages now taking place in Tonga this year, a total of 35 men commenced in May and 20 have shown commitment to continue with stage two.

 

The second day of the training focused on how culture and religion has been wrongly used to justify gender inequality.  The male participants were challenged to re-look at cultural practices that places women in an inferior position to men.  One of the topics the men found interesting to unpack was the practice of the ‘Api – a cultural ritual performed during the wedding ceremonies where the bride’s virginity is tested and a blood stain sheet is produced as evidence.  The discussion was put on hold while a quick basic 101 on the women’s reproductive system to debunk the myths around the ‘breaking of a women’s virginity’ was undertaken with the men.  There was a sense of surprise in the room when the men’s perception of virginity resulted in a various myths and misconceptions, for example the view that every woman bleeds during the first experience of intercourse, “in fact fewer than half of all woman bleed during the first time they have sex, which means a lot of women don’t bleed at all,” said ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, WCCC Director to the group of men.

According to one male participant, “Why do we test women’s virginity (‘Api) before marriage and we don’t care about the man’s sexual history, he could have several sexual relationships and children before marriage but no one cares about that – all we care about is testing the woman’s virginity to the point that where a man knows that his wife was not a virgin when they married he will use that against her until she dies and is buried – he will remind her of that every time they have a dispute – our expectations and testing of a woman’s virginity and not having any expectations on the man is unfair on the woman – is this aspect of culture still required?”

The discussions continued in the same spirit when it came to religion,”….many men wrongly use the bible for their own personal advantage and where they can benefit from it to keep power and control over their wives….we need to read our bible more and study the texts to be able to challenge these limited types of interpretations because the texts often used to place women in a lesser position is not studied or looked at in its entirety and because many people don’t read the bible they then accept what they are taught and never question it…..” another participant agreed and said that as Christians we need to really ask ourselves what are our core principles, “….are we followers of Christ? Or are we followers of men? … If we are real followers of Christ, i.e. Christians – then why is there so much violence against women and children in Tonga? Simple, because we are followers of men and men’s power and control – why are we still holding on it it? Who is benefiting from men’s power and control?”

Anton then took the men through some practical sessions on how to respond to the justifications given against the achievement of gender equality, women’s human rights and the fight to end all forms of violence against women and girls, “you have some scenarios in front of you and you have to now put into practice what you have taken on board and test your ability to respond effectively to statements made by people who are closet to you, people whom you work with, go to church with and anyone you come across that will challenge the idea of gender equality and what you have learned here – sometimes that can really make you feel uncomfortable and that’s a good thing, it means your committed,” said Anton.

Melkie Anton is from Papua New Guinea and was part of the inaugural group of Pacific men who worked closely together with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women (PWNAVAW) to develop the home grown Male Advocacy initiative over a period of 4-5 years. Part of the inaugural group of Pacific Male Advocates are six men from Tonga who will also be assisting with the second stage training.

The second stage is financially supported by Australian Aid (DFAT), UNWomen Pacific Regional Ending Violence Against Women Facility Fund and the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women (PWNAVAW) [ENDS]

 For more information please contact Tupou Mahe Lanumata on 22240.

 

 

 

Media Release – Male Advocacy Training Stage 2 on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls

“ANY FORM OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS IS WRONG”

SAYS PROMINENT CHURCH LEADER

 

[NUKU’ALOFA 21 August 2017] “Any form of Violence against women and girls is wrong and must not be tolerated,” said Rev. Dr. Tu’ipulotu Katoanga at the opening of the second stage of the Male Advocacy Training on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls this week in Tonga.

Speaking as the Guest of Honour, Rev. Dr. Katoanga emphasized three main points from his perspective as a renowned Church Leader in Tonga; that violence against women and girls in all its forms is wrong and must not be tolerated, that every man irrespective of his social economic status must play a role in ending violence against women and girls and that all organizations both government and non-government and churches must be actively involved in planning and running programs to end all forms of violence against women and girls.

Rev. Dr. Katoanga also presented a challenge by stating that there is not one type of perpetrator but that anyone, even those closest to us, can be a perpetrator, “I could be one, you could be one, your minster or pastor or any other type of man you can think of could be one and for those of us who think we are not but we stand by and say nothing or do nothing when violence happens against a women we are actually perpetrating the violence if not directly but indirectly, we are.”

Those attending the opening ceremony including the men taking part in the second stage training were reminded by Rev. Dr. Katoanga that violence against women and girls is not just one kind or type of violence but that it covers domestic or physical violence, verbal violence and mental health violence and that it can happen anywhere; at home, within the extended family, in the workplace, in the village and community, “with that said, we all need to join the fight in ending violence against women and girls, I have seen the statistics and have read the case studies from the Women and Children Crisis Centre (WCCC) and I must admit I am shocked and speechless to read about the experiences of our own women here in Tonga – we must not be ashamed in dealing with this – we must not lose heart – we must join in the fight to put an end to the violence women and girls face in Tonga.”

Before officially declaring the opening of the second stage training, Rev. Dr. Katoanga thanked the WCCC for going the extra mile to help women and children survivors of violence in Tonga who have sought assistance and help from the centre, “this work I can only imagine comes with its challenges and at times you may feel there is no recognition and acknowledgement but I am sure they are acknowledged by God who knows how much work you all do to put an end to this problem in Tonga.”

Leading the second stage of the Male Advocacy Training in Tonga is Melkie Anton from Papua New Guinea who was part of the inaugural group of Pacific men who worked closely together with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women (PWNAVAW) to develop the home grown Male Advocacy initiative over a period of 4-5 years.  Part of the inaugural group of Pacific Male Advocates are six men from Tonga who will also be assisting with the second stage training.

The second stage is financially supported by Australian Aid (DFAT), UNWomen Pacific Regional Ending Violence Against Women Facility Fund and the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women (PWNAVAW) [ENDS]

 For more information please contact Tupou Mahe Lanumata on 22240.

 

 

 

The Guest of Honour, Rev. Dr. Tu’ipulotu Katoanga and invited guest and participants

L-R Lepolo Mahe Taunisila, Guest of Honour and 'Ofa Likiliki

 

I have seen my father beat my mother up many times

I have seen my father beat my mother up many times.  Every time I beg him to stop.  I don’t know why my father gets so angry with her all the time. 

My mother keeps telling him that what he thinks and says is wrong and that she doesn’t know how to make him stop thinking and feeling that way. 

My mother looks after me and my brother and sisters.  She does all the work in the house and she also weaves mats to make extra money for our family.  My father has occasional work and helps a man who is a builder to help build homes.  Sometimes he doesn’t have work and so he just sits around the house while my mother does everything. 

One time my mother was watching a movie with us and my father was out drinking kava.  My father walked in and we were all sleeping but my mother was still awake watching the movie.  My father accused my mother of liking another man in our village.  He told my mother that the man teased him at the kava session saying that my mother was too beautiful for my father and didn’t know why she married him.  My father told my mother that maybe she was having a secret affair with the man.

I woke up and heard my father accusing her.  My mother denied it all and told him to stop because we would all wake up.  My father didn’t know I was already awake and listening.  My father picked up the remote and threw it at my mother’s face he then moved forward and kicked her in the face while my mother had my little sister sleeping next to her.  I jumped up and begged him to stop.  He walked away and while my mother was crying I got up to go and get her some water for her face.  He told me to leave the water and tell my mother to get up and go to him in the kitchen and make his food.  I told my father that it was underneath the cloth on the table.  My mother had already prepared it.  She always does. 

The next day my mother’s sister came by the house and saw my mother’s face.  My aunty has tried getting help for my mother but my mother is too scared to report because she says we have nowhere else to go.  But my aunty has had a talk with me and I know now what to do now if my father beats my mother again. My aunty has given me a mobile phone and we have hid it is a safe place.  Next time something happens I will call the police and the WCCC. 

I know my mother will be upset with me but I am doing this for her and for my brother and sisters so that we don’t have to live in fear anymore.

 

I heard of the WCCC on the Fanguna radio program

He started showing violent behaviour from the very beginning of our marriage.  I thought that I was the problem and that I needed to change my own behaviour to prevent him from being so violent.

He would go every night to drink kava and during the day he would sleep and if he woke up to find there was nothing to eat, he would throw the pots at me or grab any object near him and throw it at me.

When I gave birth to our youngest child I found out that I have cancer, and although he knew I was sick he do not stop beating me.

I heard about the WCCC’s services on their weekly Fanguna radio program and I visited the centre to seek help.  The WCCC offered several options and I opted for legal assistance and since then I have never felt so free in my life. I have custody of all my children and my husband has to pay fortnightly child maintenance.

If it wasn’t for the Fanguna radio program I would not have known about the WCCC.

 

“He locked me up in the house”

I lived with this man for one and half years and he treated me like an animal.

He beat and bashed me up so many times that I lost count and when I would leave him and go back to my family he would just turn up and walk into my family home and drag me out.  He has no respect for my family.

He locked me up in the house where we stayed and he left with other partners and if I said anything to him he would beat me. Once, he bashed me up with water hose, empty gas bottle and whatever objects he got. After beating me, he would just lock me in the house until the black marks and bruises disappeared from my body and then he would let me out.

I remember thinking at one point that this was it, this was my life and I had to just learn to put up with the beatings.

One day he beat me up and he fell asleep, so I slowly sneaked outside and ran onto the street and I met a vehicle on my way.  I stopped the vehicle and begged the driver to drop me to one of my relative’s house.

They told me to call WCCC where they can help me and they dropped me to the centre.

I talked to one of the counsellors about my case and I stayed in their safe house while they worked on my case.

I feel safe and happy now and I can make my own decisions and the best decision I made was to  leave this violent relationship for good and move on my life.

To all women and girls who are in the same situation with me and do not know where to look for help and support, please look and keep asking for help, never think for one minute that this is the life you deserve!  I am free of it and so you can be too!

 

“I Got My Daughter Back”

I reside overseas but my husband is here in Tonga and he does not want me to go back.

He is a violent man, not only does he beat me but he’s also having an affair with another woman here in Tonga.

I made a complaint to the police and we reconciled but he still continues to beat me and I am fed up with him.

While I am still struggling with this situation, I heard about WCCC and the work that the they are do through a friend. I enquired about their services and I asked them if I could stay in their shelter for a while and they offered me their safe house services straight after hearing my story.

I requested for a safety order to keep my husband away and to bring back our daughter to me.  The WCCC helped me and I was able to get my daughter back and we have arranged to leave Tonga immediately.  .

I am so thankful to the centre for the help they gave and I am just looking forward to leaving now and starting a new life with my daughter..

if you have a friend who needs help because of a violent relationship, help refer them immediately, it can make all the difference.