Tonga WCCC signs raise awareness about gender-based violence toll-free helpline

The Tonga Women and Children Crisis Centre has unveiled billboards in Ha’apai to create awareness about a toll-free helpline for victims of gender-based violence.

The launch was held Wednesday to coincide with the start of 16 days of activism to end all forms of violence against women and girls.

A WCCC release said more than 80% of women and girls in Ha'apai, who participated in WCCC's saturated ūloa community outreach indicated that they were aware of the centre but not of the toll-free call line 0800 4444,

"I didn't know you had a telephone number that we could call that was free, now that we know, it will be much easier for any victim from any of the outer-lying islands to call directly and seek help,” expressed a woman participant in the mobile counseling session in Lofanga.

The Pacific Partnership to End Violence Against Women and Girls (Pacific Partnership) funded primarily by the European Union with targeted support from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand and UN Women has enabled the WCCC to launch the 0800 444 billboards in Pangai to increase the free-toll help number's visibility.

"We were really lucky to get a prime location in Pangai where it is exposed to daily traffic of people travelling back and forth from the outer-lying islands as well as residents here in Pangai. Over the last 8 days, we have travelled and carried out awareness and mobile counselling services to 7 outer-lying islands including Pangai and the launch of the 0800 444 billboard on the 25 November 2020 here in Ha'apai is our commitment to the women and girls of Ha'apai that WCCC services are just as much for them as it is for women and girls in Tongatapu,” said WCCC Director ‘Ofakilevuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki.

Mele Langilangi Vi, who is a pioneer women's development advocate over the last 5 decades in Ha'apai launched the billboards.

"It is important that women and young girls have access to help through this free telephone service because sometimes living in a small community it's hard to seek help because of fear that it will not be kept confidential so this free calling telephone number will be the best approach for many," said Langilangi.


Photo supplied TWCCC