Women and girls in Tonga have very few legal protections in the case of violence. There is no domestic violence, sexual harassment, human trafficking or anti-sexual tourism legislation in place to protect women and girls from violence and exploitation. The powerful influence of conservative and patriarchal religious communities in Tonga mean the country is one of only seven countries in the world who have not signed or ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
There is no minimum age of sexual consent in Tonga, so statutory rape of young girls is not considered a crime. In addition, the definition of rape requires the victim to prove they were physically resisting the perpetrator, a requirement that fails to comply with international standards. The result of this legislative and social context is that young girls are often forced by their families to marry their perpetrator to avoid shame and stigma.
Sisters For Change is beginning work in Tonga in 2019.