As Tongans we should be very proud of The Declaration of Freedom and the Same Law for All Classes under the Tongan Constitution – For rights such as these to be enacted in 1875 is something that was most definitely a huge progressive step forward in Tonga’s political and constitutional history.
Unfortunately, more than one hundred and thirty six years later we haven’t made much progress at all with regards to achieving human rights for all in Tonga. As we currently follow the land commission public consultations, it amazes me how negative reactions are towards women owning land in Tonga.
Surely we are doing an injustice to the ideas developed in 1875. By now we should be a nation that recognizes all its citizens as equal. Women in Tonga contribute to the economy in enormous ways, they tirelessly contribute to community development projects, church activities and peace keeping initiatives and yet we are still classified as second class citizens when it comes to land ownership and registration!
The unequal balance of power and ownership that men have over women in Tonga contributes in many ways towards the reinforcement of Violence Against Women, where the man always has the upper hand in the relationship and takes control over relationship and his wife.
I hope that one day as Tongan citizens we will all come to this realisation: that men and women deserve equal rights. On an individual level, we all need to ask ourselves: have I reached this realisation? Because when you personally believe in the principle of equality it will guide your actions, and you will see these ideas becoming a reality every day through the way that you interact with others. Imagine the positive impact if the whole nation had this realisation – we would be that much closer to achieving the intentions behind our Constitution.