Tonga bans girls from playing rugby
The Tongan government is banning girls from playing rugby in public schools because of cultural restrictions.
The ban, which also applies to boxing, was imposed by Education Minister Penisimani Fifita, who claims the sports go against Tongan tradition and customs for women.
A letter from Minister Fifita to Tonga High School was posted on the So Tongan Facebook page and has been widely ridiculed.
“The world is always evolving, girls can do the same thing as boys do AND still have RESPECT! Majority of male players play because it’s a source of income.. if females are offered the same opportunity It should be supported!” said one Facebook user, Kaleni Tanaki.
However another Facebook user Lanz N Nua defended the Minister’s stance “Glad to see a Minister who doesn’t bend over to every little thing the western countries think we “should” do. Cultural Erosion should have its limits and our leaders ought to draw the line at some point.”
Tonga’s women’s sevens coach Hoko Tuivai told Radio New Zealand “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.”
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has also weighed into the argument, saying “I would encourage all the young women to engage in whatever sporting code they are interested in.”