16 Apr 2015

Women's advocate:Tonga's CEDAW ratification a disaster

4:19 pm on 16 April 2015

A women's advocate in Tonga says the country's much-heralded ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is a disaster.

Tongan students

Photo: AFP

The Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki says since last month's cabinet announcement that the UN convention would be ratified there has been huge debate in the community.

Church and community leaders have come out against the move and the government has still not officially ratified CEDAW despite making the announcement to a UN meeting in New York.

Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki says the process is a mess because of the government using terms such as abortion and same-sex marriage which she says are not referred to in the convention.

"From the get-go, the communication of this government agreeing to ratify CEDAW has been somewhat based on a lot of misconceptions, hence the reason why CEDAW has probably become the most debated issue in the political arena and also at the ground level. I haven't seen anything like this since the move towards democracy."

Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki also says there are conditions within ratification that are designed to protect domestic considerations but the question needs to be asked what are people protecting under the auspices of culture and religion.

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