25 Jan 2018

Tongan advocate to keep pushing for women's treaty's ratification

8:12 am on 25 January 2018

A women's rights advocate in Tonga says she hopes to allay community fears about ratifying international human rights conventions.

No caption

Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

Tonga's human rights record came under scrutiny last week as part of a periodic review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Many states expressed concerns that Tonga had not ratified key agreements like the Convention Against Torture and the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms Discrimination Against Women, known as CEDAW.

The director of Tonga's Women and Children Crisis Centre, 'Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, said public misconceptions about CEDAW were that it would pave the way for same sex marriage and lead to abortion being legalised.

"There still needs to be a lot of rigorous public awareness and the Crisis Centre has a huge role to play in that," she said.

"We are probably one of the very few organisations in Tonga who can raise a thorough awareness around CEDAW and debunk all the myths and the misconceptions that a large section of our communities have of it."

The Pohiva government first attempted to ratify CEDAW in 2015, which provoked a backlash and eventual backdown in the conservative Kingdom.