When a person is discriminated against only because she is female, is this wrong? If you tell a young girl to put up with sexual jokes made at her in the workplace from male colleagues because its part of the normal male biology and culture, or when police re-victimize women and girls who have been raped and ask them “well, what were you doing there? or “what were you wearing? or even worse “what did you do to provoke it? Is this wrong? Or when daughters have been left landless or homeless because the land laws dictate that only men can register and own land, or when a medical doctor tells a wife who has been violently sexually violated by her husband, “do you know he has the right to do anything he wants to do because he is your husband?” is this wrong? What about when a young teenage girl who has been raped is forced to marry the perpetrator to save the family from shame and gossip? or when a husband forces his wife to sleep with several different men while he pleasures himself by being a peeping Tom? Is this wrong? Or when the national sports budget over the last decade is predominately funding male sports or the fact that in 139 years of parliament in Tonga we have only ever had 4 women elected into parliament and 3 women appointed to ministerial portfolios, is this okay? Or to tell a woman that she can’t play netball because she’s married or that a woman can’t use contraception or have access to tubal ligation until she gets her husband’s approval” Is this okay? CEDAW is not a magical solution to the plethora of issues—but it’s a tool that can definitely help our government and future governments take positive steps in ensuring that structural power relations in our society and material resources are addressed by taking positive or affirmative action to ensure that policies and programs benefit BOTH women and men and girls and boys and not just one gender.
‘Ofa atu, ‘Ofakilevuka.