5 Oct 2009

Tongan women want Sevele's resignation

2:46 pm on 5 October 2009

A Tongan women's group has called for the resignation of the prime minister, Dr Feleti Sevele.

The Tongan Women's National Congress says the prime mnister has not only reduced the Kingdom to the worst economic state in its history but has also embarrassed Tonga in front of the world by refusing to ratify CEDAW - the Convention for the Elimination of All Discrimination Against Women.

The Congress says that the prime minister told the United Nations that ratifying the convention would cut across the culture and social heritage that make up the unique Tongan way of life.

It adds that not ratifying the convention will mean that the prime minister has confirmed that his Government does not respect the rights of Tongan women, supports the increasing abuse and murder of Tongan women by their husbands, the increasing rape of young girls by their own fathers and the ongoing suppression of women in political life.

Tonga's Legislative Assembly voted 18 to 1, with four abstentions, not to ratify the convention.

Dr Sevele told the UN General Assembly that Tonga's women are among the most highly cherished and respected in the world.