4 Feb 2013

Tonga women urge government to work on gender equality

5:45 am on 4 February 2013

A Tongan women's agency says the latest review of human rights by the United Nations is a wake up call for the government and civil society to speed up progress on gender equality and domestic violence laws.

Tonga is the first Pacific country to undergo a second review after concerns over the slow progress of basic freedoms.

The report recommends allowing women to own land, protection from domestic violence, better police training as well as abolishing the death penalty and corporal punishment.

The co-ordinator of the NGO Ma'a Fafine Moe Famili, Betty Blake, says she hopes the review will prompt the government to act.

"I would like to see that government look into women's rights, our legislation and that government look into the new Family Bill that we are putting in. I would like to see that some resource is being put into the implementation."

Betty Blake says more needs to be done to address cultural barriers to basic human rights in Tonga.