Tongan NGOs Petition For Ratification Of UN Women’s Convention

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CEDAW can help improve lives and women, girls in Tonga

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 1, 2015) – A petition from Non-Government Organisations and the Civil Society Forum of Tonga was presented to Parliament today in support of a Cabinet decision to ratify the United Nation’s Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki the Director of Women and Children’s Crisis Centre presented the petition to the Deputy Clerk of the House Dr Sione Vikilani at Parliament Office.

Two Members of Parliament Hon Fe‘ao Vakata the Minister of Internal Affairs, and Semisi Sika Tongatapu People’s Representative No.2 and Chairman of the Whole House Committee, signed the petition for its submission.

‘Ofa said their support is based on their knowledge of CEDAW and how it can help improve the lives of women and girls throughout Tonga.

[PIR editor’s note: RNZI reported that ‘The Tonga government has temporarily shelved plans to ratify an international women's rights convention until after next month's coronation of King Tupou VI.’]

"We have two recommendations in the petition. First for government to proceed and ratify CEDAW with its reservations, and for government to continue raising awareness on CEDAW among the various sectors of society including community leaders, churches and other groups with the support and help of NGOs and civil society organisations to carry out these awareness programs," she said.

The petition letter addressed to the Speaker Lord Tu’ivakano also stated they are united in our Christian beliefs not to legalise abortion and same sex marriage. These two issues are not spelled out in CEDAW nor are they hiding in some other clauses of the convention as it is claimed, she said.

The petition had up to 17 signatures from the Civil Society Forum of Tonga and members including the Friendly Islands Teachers’ Association, Ma’a Fafine moe Famili and Tonga National Centre for Women and Children (TNWC).

Signatories from the NGOs included the Women and Children’s Crisis Centre, Talitha Project, Tonga National Women Congress, Public Service Association, Tonga National Youth Congress, Tonga National Paralympics Committee, Naunau ‘o e ‘Alamaite Tonga Association, ‘Atenisi Institute, On the Spot, Tonga Leitis Association and others.

Parliament convened today at the start of this year’s session.

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