CEDAW ratification dividing the nation says Tonga’s PM


Tonga’s Prime Minister says the ratification of the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) has divided the nation.

Mr ‘Akilisi  Pohiva said local women’s groups would again be asked to carry out public consultations.

Tonga has been preparing to ratify the convention since 2015. Last year Pohiva said the Government was stepping back from ratification after opponents protested that it could open the way for same-sex marriage and abortion.

“We made it clear that some of the clauses in regards to CEDAW are well taken by government and there are a few we do not think that they are appropriate,” Pohiva said.

“We cannot apply this provision in the case of Tonga. That is why we thought the most appropriate action to be taken is to send them back for review and for discussion.”

In May 2016 the Catholic Women’s League presented a petition to parliament.

Lady ‘Ainise Sevele, the Assistant President of Tonga’s Catholic Women’s League with the Vicar-General Monsignor Lutoviko Finau and other church members led the march of about 300 people.

At the time Lady Sevele said the petition had more than 2000 signatories, calling for the Government of Tonga not to ratify the United Nation’s CEDAW convention for women.

The main reasons for their opposition is that they believe the convention, which seeks to eliminate discrimination against women, clashes with their Christian faith and does not concur with the fundamental values of Tonga’s family life.

Tonga is one of only six UN members which haven’t ratified CEDAW, including Iran, Sudan, Somalia and the USA.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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