18 May 2010

Violence against women in Tonga soars

3:04 pm on 18 May 2010

The police in Tonga have revealed statistics that show the reported rate of violence against women has almost quadrupled in the past decade.

Police Commander Chris Kelley released the figures at a consultation workshop that's considering advocating for change to domestic violence legislation.

The statistics show that the reported rate of violence against women climbed from 113 incidents in the year 2000 to 404 in 2009.

On average 22 women per month report an incident of violence to police.

Commander Kelley says there are already 12 laws relating specifically to violence against women, and new legislation such as a domestic violence act or childcare act could address related issues.

But he says there's a need to consider what stimulates violence against women in Tonga.

"Where does it start, in my opinion it's a learned behaviour, its perpetrated here in peer pressure. I don't think people are born with a gene labelled domestic violence but you learn from others regrettably. And Tonga's no different."

Commander Kelley says police are looking to introduce an anti-violence programme in schools, and will soon release a domestic violence response policy.