Primary schools kick off 16 days of activism in Tonga

16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM KICK STARTED WITH PRIMARY SCHOOL CHANT COMPETITION

 

School children at Tonga contest on White Ribbon Day

[22 Nov 2012, NUKU’ALOFA] The 16 Days of Activism in Tonga was kick started with an early commemoration of the 25thNovember International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Thursday 22 November with a Primary School Chant Competition Feauhi Fakakaekae. The Competition was held prior to the 25th due to the actual day falling on a Sunday.

Twenty-two primary schools participated in the competition with chants composed specifically on the Tongan based theme Violence Against Women is not my Culture – Ko e Fakamamahi’I‘A e Kakai Fefine ‘Oku ‘ikai Ko Ha ‘Ulungaanga Tukufakaholo, Pe Ko Ha ‘Ulungaanga Fakafonua. The chants were directed to be within 3 minutes each and could either be in the Tongan language or the English language. Most schools competed with Tongan chants.

The Chant Competition was officially opened by Hon. ‘Etani Tuku’aho who in his opening remarks stated that one of the most critical pillars of Tongan culture is the respect that a brother must show to his sister. He went on to explain that it is with this same respect that every man, youth and young boy should understand that using violence against women and girls is not part of the Tongan culture.

According to the Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre, ‘Ofa-Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki, “the compositions of most of the chants were amazing, the children really brought across the message around violence against women is not the Tongan culture very well. What we wanted to do was to start creating awareness among children at a very young age that VIOLENCE IS NOT OK and that no matter what the situation is using violence against women and girls is not the Tongan culture neither is it part of our gendered socialization – so why are we using culture as an excuse still?”

Police Commissioner Grant O Fee said in his remarks during the opening ceremony said, “There are things in which Police should know is wrong. For example, taking bribes is wrong, using excessive force during an arrest is wrong and similarly with violence against women and girls it is wrong.” The partnership between the Tonga Police and key NGOs who provide direct response support services to victims and survivors of violence is key to spreading the message across communities all over Tonga that violence against women and girls is wrong and it is not part of the Tongan culture.

The winner of the Chant Competition kick starting the 16 Days of Activism in Tonga were;

· First Prize TOP$1,000: Nuku’alofa Primary School

· Second Prize TOP$500: ‘Atele GPS tied with Tonga Side School

· Third Prize: TOP$200: Lapaha Primary School

The Chant Competition was organized by the Tonga Police, the Women and Children Crisis Centre, the Tonga National Centre for Women and Children and the Pacific Prevention of Domestic Violence Program (PPDVP) funded by NZAID.

Source – Tongan Women and Children’s Crisis Centre

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