A woman is facing assault, abuse and causing bodily harm charges related to the alleged severe abuse of her female toddler last week.
The 26-year-old mother from Folaha is remanded in police custody to appear at the Magistrate Court on Wednesday 20 January 2021, Police said.
Tongan Police have placed the child in care following an investigation into images shared on Facebook.
As Kaniva News reported last week, the images showed what appeared to be a woman and a female toddler inside a vehicle.
Police said they began an investigation after many people contacted them regarding the images.
“The safety and security of the child was our priority,” Police previously said.
“We would like to make it clear the child is now in a safe place.
“The Police investigation continues and we cannot comment further due to the sensitivity of the case.”
The photos have been widely shared on Facebook by Tongan news sharing groups. One group has so far garnered 1100 reactions, 1000 comments and 1200 shares.
The images shared on Facebook showed what appeared to be a woman and a female toddler inside a vehicle.
Other photos showed a headshot of a man. Some of the photos appear to show the toddler crying with a bloodied face in the company of the woman.
One of the images appeared to show the woman holding the toddler’s head while the little girl was crying.
Another image appeared to show the woman showing the child to somebody who was watching what she was doing to the toddler.
A number of unverified and unsupported claims about the identities and motives of the people shown in the images have been made online.
“Police were informed of a viral post on Facebook last Friday that allegedly shows a mother abusing her child. The Police Commissioner directed a police investigation which resulted in the child being removed to a safer place and the mother being arrested on Friday 15 January,” Police said this afternoon Monday 18.
“Every child has the right to feel safe and no child should know what it’s like to be abused,” says A/Deputy Commissioner Tevita Vailea.
“Tonga Police has a dedicated domestic violence unit, with two female investigators and we work closely with both Women and Children’s centres to help victims of abuse.
Tonga Police has a zero-tolerance policy to any forms of domestic violence, and we are committed to a future where no woman or child is violently abused.”