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Tonga: From Young Women's Community Empowerment to Police Academy

As female residents of Tonga , women in Tonga had been described in by the Los Angeles Times as members of Tongan society who traditionally have a "high position in Tongan society" due to the country's partly matriarchal foundation but "can't own land", "subservient" to husbands in terms of "domestic affairs" and "by custom and law, must dress modestly, usually in Mother Hubbard-style dresses hemmed well below the knee". Based on the "superficial dealings" of LA Times Travel Writer, Susan Spano with the women of Tonga in , she found that Tongan women were a "little standoffish", while Patricia Ledyard, former headmistress of a missionary school for girls in Tonga, confirmed that such "aloofness" of Tongan women were due to the nation's "rigid class system" and the country's "efforts to retain its cultural identity". There were presence of Tongan women who are professionals engaged in jobs as travel agents, as vendors selling an " exotic cornucopia of root vegetables and tropical fruit s ", and as basket weavers. The LA Times further described that Tongan women have a mehekitanga meaning "auntie" or "fahu" the eldest aunt , a senior women who shared with a brother the authority and power over a family group. The mehekitanga has a special position during "weddings, funerals and birthday parties".

Interestingly, in Tonga, families without female children sometimes let a boy dress and act like a girl. He grows up as a transvestite, with little social stigma. Before Methodist missionaries reached Tonga in aboutwomen went topless.

There was also cannibalism.

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Most married and lived faithfully though their husbands did not. Prostitution was unknown, single women could take lovers and divorce was common. Such practices soon changed as missionaries began converting Tongans to Christianity and imparting the mores of the Victorian age. Today, Tongans are deeply religious by law, most businesses close on Sunday for the Sabbath and decorous. Education, technology and an increasingly cash-based economy have changed the way Tongan women live: More of them work outside the home though never doing manual labor and go abroad to college.

The preparation and serving of the drink are done by a young woman, usually but not always the only female participant, or by male specialists. The The royal palace in Nukualofa. Tonga is a constitutional monarchy. Kava clubs are found in the towns, and kava drinking gatherings take place almost daily in the villages. Basic Economy. The economy centers on agriculture and fishing. Major exports are vanilla, fish, handicrafts, and pumpkins grown for export to Japan. King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV has modernized the country's economy.

Based largely on foreign aid from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and the European Community and on imports, this process has created a widespread presence of Western products. The agricultural base of the economy remains. The tourist industry is growing, and revenues from Tongans working abroad are one of the largest sources of income.

Typical agricultural produce are root crops such as taro, tapioca, sweet potatoes, and yams. Coconuts, bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, watermelons, peanuts, and vegetables are grown.

Pigs and fowl are abundant and free ranging. Cows, sheep, and goats also are present. Intensive shellfishing is conducted along the shores, and there is an abundant fish supply. Royal visits and funerals call for the preparation of large amounts of food.

Roasted piglets are laid in the center of a pola tray made of woven palm tree leaves. Root crops, meats, and shellfish prepared in the 'umu underground oven are added and garnished with fresh fruits, decorative flowers, ribbons, and balloons.

In villages, food is consumed while one sits on a mat; in towns, tables are used. Land Tenure and Property. All land is owned by the king, the nobles, and the government. Foreigners cannot own land by constitutional decree. Owners have the right to sublet land to people who pay a tribute, traditionally food.

Every citizen above age 16 is entitled to lease eight and a quarter acres of land from the government for a small sum, but the growing population and its concentration in the capital make it increasingly difficult to exercise this right. Classes and Castes. Traditional society had at its top the ha'a tu'i kingsfollowed by the hou'eiki chiefsha'a matapule talking chiefskau mu'a would-be talking chiefsand kau tu'a commoners.

All titles were heritable and followed the male line of descent almost exclusively. This hierarchical social structure is still essentially in place. Tribute to the chiefs was paid twice a year. Agricultural produce and gifts such as butchered animals, bark cloth, and mats were formally offered to the Tu'i Tonga and, through him, to the gods in an elaborate ceremony called 'inasi. The king now visits all the major islands at least once a year on the occasion of the Royal Agriculture Show.

The gift giving and formalities at the show closely resemble those of the 'inasi. The constitution eliminated the title of chief and introduced the title of nopele noblewhich was given to thirty-three traditional chiefs.

Only nobles and the king are now entitled to own and distribute land.

In Tonga, Women Cloak Their Power Under Mother Hubbard Dresses

An increasingly market-oriented economy and an expanding bureaucracy have recently added a middle class that runs the gamut from commoners to chiefs. Newly acquired wealth, however, does not easily overcome social barriers rooted in history.

An estimated 5, to 10, women in Tonga are survivors of intimate partner violence every year, between 31and 62of all women. Between and cases of violence against women were reported to police each year between and and the Tongan government's Women's Division reports that acts of violence against women and children have increased by since Jun 12,   Andrea is one of the first Tongan women to work as an engineer, and as a manager. Since the last Tu'i Tonga had no official heir, as the head of the other two royal lines, King George became the only king of Tonga. The constitution recognizes only his royal line. In , the British granted Tonga's request for protectorate status.

Often claims to higher social status are established by claiming kinship to holders of aristocratic titles. The Kingdom of Tonga is a constitutional monarchy.

The constitution prescribes a legislative assembly with twenty members representing the thirty-three nobles and twenty members elected as people's representatives. Inboth groups were reduced to nine each.

Jun 11,   In the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga, an archipelago of tropical islands about 1, miles northeast of New Zealand, women can't own land. They play a Author: SUSAN SPANO. Jan 05,   A Land Where Big Women are the Most Beautiful Tongan Warriors. The men of Tonga are still warriors, muscular, fit and active, Negative Press. There has been some negative press that Tongans are one of Big Women, Happy Tongan Life. Here are the beautiful sweet strong Tongan women . Tongan waters attract several varieties of seabirds such as noddies, terns, frigate birds, and mutton birds. The village of Kolovai on Tongatapu Island is home to a colony of flying foxes (Pteropus tonganus, a type of Old World fruit bat). The bats cling to large .

Twelve other members are appointed by the king: ten Cabinet members including the prime minister, who is also the governor of Tongatapu, and the governors of Ha'apai and Vava'u. In the election, six of the people's representatives belonged to the new Pro-Democracy Movement that in became the Democratic Party founded by 'Akilisi Pohiva. The kingdom is divided into districts, each headed by a district officer. Every three years, each village elects a town officer who represents the government and holds village meetings fono where government regulations are made known.

Every villager above 16 years of age is entitled to attend. People do not take part in the decision-making process but show approval or dissent through their implementation of the instructions. Every citizen is entitled to free primary education, a plot of land at age 16, and free medical care. Hospitals, dispensaries, and pharmacies are distributed over the territory.

Smaller government clinics are present in some villages in the outer islands. To support the modernization of the country, in the Tongan Development Bank was established. Financed by the World Bank and contributions from New Zealand and Australia, it provides low-interest loans for entrepreneurs.

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Foreigners who want to invest in the country need a Tongan partner for any economic venture. The U. Peace Corps, the Japanese Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, and development organizations connected with the British, New Zealand, and Australian governments are among the active aid agencies.

They work in the fields of education, health, agriculture, and entrepreneurship. Division of Labor by Gender. The introduction of wage labor in twentieth century privileged men, altering an equilibrium between genders that had lasted for centuries.

Cash is now an element of wealth, and wage-earning men have easier access to it. However, the old egalitarian attitude toward the two sexes has not been altered by economic and technological changes. In contemporary offices, shops, and banks, working women are prominent. In villages, most men take care of the land or tend animals.

Women weave mats and make bark cloth. Both women and men actively participate in parenting. Food preparation is shared between the male and female members of a family. The preparation of the 'umu underground ovennow restricted to Sundays and special occasions, is an almost exclusive male activity.

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Older children help with activities and household chores. The Relative Status of Women and Men. The hierarchical system's emphasis on the higher status of females guarantees an equal role in society for females and males in spite of the fact that men usually inherit titles and land.

There are no explicit rules for marriage, and couples are formed through reciprocal free choice.

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Pronounced social stratification discourages marriages between people of vastly different social status. Divorce is legal and not uncommon. During a wedding, the two kainga involved exchange mats, bark cloth, and food. On the day of the ceremony, the bride and groom "wear their wealth.

Tonga has an almost universal rate of literacy. Kin Groups.

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Kinship ties are of paramount importance. The two major kin groups are famili family and kainga extended family. The 'ulumotu'a head of the family presides over this group. A kainga consists of relatives living in different households in the same village or in several villages. They are related by bilateral relationships of consanguinity in a cognatic system. Membership in kin groups is restricted to fewer and closer relatives than it was in the past.

The parameters in establishing hierarchy at any level of society are gender and age. A female is always considered higher in rank than a male. Inheritance of land and titles goes through the male line, and primogeniture rule usually is enforced.

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Because of traditional brother-sister avoidance, year-old boys sleep in a separate house. Though avoidance is less strictly enforced now, it still affects daily life. Topics such as sex and activities such as watching videos are not shared between brothers and sisters.

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Infant Care and Child Rearing. The birth of a child is among the most important events, but the official social introduction of a child to the community is celebrated only at the end of a child's first year.

Mothers increasingly give birth in modern hospitals, and infant mortality has decreased. Infants typically are breast-fed and sleep in their parents' bed until age 5 to 8 years. Parents are the main caretakers, but in an extended family everybody contributes to parenting.

This feeling of shared parenting extends as far as the village and even further. Older siblings often care for younger ones, but compulsory education has made this practice less common. Tongans are proud of their almost percent level of literacy. Government high schools limit enrollment by using a competitive examination and charging fees.

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Those who are not admitted can attend private religious high schools. There is a branch of the University of the South Pacific on Tongatapu.

Sia'atoutai Theological College trains teachers. Adoption is common. An older couple whose children have left to form their own families may adopt from a younger couple with many children. A couple may decide to give a child to a relative of higher social or economic status, and many parents who work abroad leave their children with relatives. Children are present in private or public events and are almost never forbidden to look, observe, and learn.

The most important life events are celebrated with elaborate ceremonies that may last weeks in the case of weddings or funerals of royalty or nobles. These events include a complex pattern of gift exchanges; the preparation, consumption, and distribution of a large quantity of food; and speech giving. Pieces of bark cloth, mats, kava roots, and food are exchanged. Speakers use an elaborate figurative language. Formal attire for men includes a tupenu skirt and a ta'ovala mat worn around one's waist and kept in place by a belt of coconut fiber.

Prestigious old belts made of human hair also are used.

Women of Tonga (7) - Liz Cowley - Hospitality Business Woman

A shirt with a tie and a jacket complete the attire. Women wear long dresses and ta'ovala as well. The softness, color, and decorations of a ta'ovala indicate status and wealth. People shake hands when they meet, and relatives kiss by pressing each other's noses against their faces and soundly inhaling through the nose.

The men preparing the 'umu or roasting for a big feast do not eat with the guests and are allowed at the table only when the first round of people has finished eating and left.

Women and girls are stepping up and rebuilding their homes and lives, sometimes in extremely difficult circumstances. At the same time, in New York, the Tongan Government is currently being represented at the 62nd annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) from the 12 March to 23 March.5/5(8). 70of Tongan women aged are obese. Tonga and nearby Nauru have the world's highest overweight and obese populations. EducationCalling code: +

Most food is eaten with the hands, although silverware also is used. It is customary to wash one's hands at the beginning and end of a meal. The gesture of raising the eyebrows in conversation expresses one's understanding of the speaker's speech and is an invitation to continue.

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It is difficult for people to admit failure in understanding or to respond negatively to requests. Religious Beliefs. Christian churches exist in even the most remote villages. Bells or log drums call people for services at the crack of dawn. Cook Islands Niue.

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