30 Aug 2016

Tongan centre to provide women with 'safe place'

3:51 pm on 30 August 2016

A new drop in centre for young women in Tonga is hoping to reduce domestic violence by providing a safe space to come and discuss issues they are facing.

Last week the Talitha Project opened the centre with assistance from UN Women and Australian aid.

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Tongan society lacks places for young women to go. Photo: AFP

It will house empowerment courses, provide counselling and generally be a place for young women to relax.

Founder Vanessa Heleta said, in the past, every other sector of Tongan society has had places to go to and express themselves, but not young women.

"Men, you know, they go and drink kava and there are places for women who do weaving and all that stuff but there are no places for the girls themselves so this is a place where they can come and we provide counselling and give them information on abuse and also violence against girls.

Ms Heleta said the centre will be used for for the 'My Body! My Rights!' programme next month which aims to empower young women to make their own decisions about living a life free of violence and enjoying their fundamental human rights.

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