22 Mar 2018

Tonga officials to discuss bans on girls playing contact sports

1:57 pm on 22 March 2018

Officials in Tonga are discussing a controversial government directive which apparently bans girls playing contact sports like rugby and boxing.

There's been widespread criticism and outrage at the plan.

A letter from the Ministry of Education last week informed staff at Tonga High School that the girls shouldn't be playing such sports because it goes against young women's dignity and Tongan culture and traditions.

The Ministry of Education and Tonga High School have told RNZ Pacific officials and the principal are in meetings to discuss the issue further.

The Prime Minister's office was not commenting, directing enquiries to the Ministry of Education.

The story has received international attention and the New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said while New Zealand's aid for sports in Tonga would not be threatened she disagreed with the directive.

Earlier the Tongan government said the aim was to ensure not too much schooling was being missed after Cyclone Gita.