22 May 2015

Women's advocate says Tongan CEDAW protesters misled

2:34 pm on 22 May 2015

A women's advocate in Tonga says people are being distracted and misled into opposing the government ratification of a major UN convention.

Tongan women protest against the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, arguing it includes counter-culture clauses such as same sex marriage and abortion.

Tongan women protest against the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, arguing it includes counter-culture clauses such as same sex marriage and abortion. Photo: Broadcomfm Broadcasting / Facebook

There have been multiple petitions, marches and a parliamentary resolution asking the government to stop ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, or CEDAW.

Opponents have expressed concern that it will allow same sex marriage and abortion but Vanessa Heleta from the Talitha Development Project says that is a misconception and people are being brainwashed.

Ms Heleta says she is emotionally drained after working on CEDAW for over a decade.

She says the latest protests, including a march today, are saddening.

"I feel very sad and I feel that it is a waste of time because there are so many other issues we can address but it is drowned by this wrong misconception."

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs