15 Apr 2013

Community leaders in Tonga condemn violence against women

9:16 am on 15 April 2013

Domestic violence statistics have prompted an outcry from Tongan community leaders and health officials.

Tonga's Director of Health Dr Siale 'Akau'ola says the statistics are disturbing and it's time to change society's views on violence.

The comments were made to a journalists' workshop in Nuku'alofa, and based on a 2009 report that found 45 per cent of Tongan women reported having ever experienced either physical, sexual, or emotional violence during their lifetime.

A senior journalism trainer from the New Zealand Ministry of Social Development Stephanie Edmond, will facilitate the journalism training in Tonga this week.

She says news media has a critical role to play in portraying domestic violence as a serious social problem.

Dr 'Akau'ola, a pathologist, says family violence has profound effects in families, and significant lifelong physical and psychological consequences.