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.