12 Mar 2012

Tonga PM calls for urgent action on violence against women

6:50 am on 12 March 2012

The Prime Minister of Tonga says the first ever report into domestic violence has brought to light the inequalities within Tongan society and will bring unspeakable decay if it's not addressed.

Lord Tu'ivakano says the disturbing statistics show how women have been the focus of rejection and suppression.

Key findings reveal 77 percent of Tongan women and girls are affected by violence perpetrated by their fathers or teachers and 33 percent of married women are victims of physical violence.

It also says 17 percent of married women are victims of sexual violence and 24 percent of married women are emotionally abused.

Perpetrators of violence are just as likely to be well respected and educated Tongan men.

The Prime Minister says the findings must be discussed to change the trend that points to more detrimental effects if society turns a blind eye to the realities.

He says the study is a first step calling for serious and urgent action and the immediate response must be to accept that violence against women is a crime.