“I am very, very concerned” said WCCC Community Education Trainer Asela Sauaki, “I really worry about the way we define rape under Tongan Law.”

As a Community Education Trainer, Sauaki runs workshops and programs to increase the level of understanding about the work that the Crisis Centre does – working to eliminate all forms of violence including domestic violence, sexual assault, rape and child abuse.

“The part of the training that I am most embarrassed to talk about is way we handle rape under Tongan law. I think its very old fashioned – and just wrong.”

Since 1999, the marital rape law has been overturned in Tonga. As it currently stands, those who are raped married is not recognised as a crime.

“Rape is a very serious crime – it is when you are forced to have sex with someone you don’t want to have sex with. Some people cannot really ever recover from this crime and I worry that this limited definition may allow cases where women and children have been raped to be punished as a lesser crime.”

The definition of rape in Tonga is also very limited – it only allows for penal vaginal rape. This means that those who are raped in other ways such as anal, oral, hands or raped with objects, are only charged as indecent assault rather than rape.

“It is time that we have a law that recognises the needs of women and children. Rape happens to those who are vulnerable in our society – it is a disgusting abuse of power over a victim. We need the law to protect those who are venerable in society”.