In a recent letter, the Ministry of Education in Tonga has banned girls playing rugby at state school.
Girls Banned From Rugby In Tonga
Shockingly, a letter signed on the 15th of March by Tonga’s Ministry of Education and Training, ordered all government schools to ban girls from playing sports like rugby and boxing.
Their reasoning is that they want to preserve women’s dignity and Tongan culture and traditions, and both sports supposedly go against these things.
As you would expect there has been considerable outrage to this letter and new policy.
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Chief among which was women’s rights advocate, ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki, who said: “It takes us right back to the thinking that education is only academic and for girls to remain in that kind of academic lane, sports is just the alternative for boys.
“It is really just taking us back from all the work we have done so far in trying to achieve and bring forward gender equality in Tonga.
“This letter from the Ministry of Education has taken us a hundred years backwards.”
She would later go on to mention Valerie Adams, a double Olympic champion at shot-put who competed for New Zealand but is half Tongan.
Additionally, Tongan Women’s Sevens coach, Hoko Tuivai said she respected tradition, but times are changing. Ultimately, she went on, this directive was going to limit the opportunities for girls to play rugby, and therefore wouldn’t feel the positive benefits it provides.
Tuivai said: “It’s just closing doors, closing all opportunities for women especially leading up to the Pacific Games and Olympics, as we have set our path to work towards the 2020 Olympics and here in Tonga, women’s rugby has a bigger chance to reach those international competitions than men.”
A representative of the Ministry claimed the directive was due to Cyclone Gita. Government schools were so far behind because of it that the directive was to get schools to catch up.
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