This letter is in response to Leiasmanu Cullwick, Executive Director of the Vanuatu National Council of Women. As the Vanuatu Daily Post has decided to stop publishing letters regarding Ms. Cullwick’s victim blaming comments, Sista welcomes all community members to use this online platform to express their opinion regarding any issues that affect the women of Vanuatu. 


I feel compelled to say something in a public forum about the ridiculous and damaging views expressed in the Vanuatu Daily Post by Leiasmanu Cullwick. In regard to her comments on sexual assault of a tourist and local ni-van women- I think what is most baffling to me is Ms Cullwicks acceptance that rape and sexual assault are inevitable and justifiable as a consequence for not following her archaic rules of behaviour.

It is horrific and beyond comprehension that a woman who claims to advocate for women holds such a disgusting dangerous view. 100% of all rapes are the fault of the rapist- every single time. Sexual assault is never justifiable and never acceptable under any circumstance. Women and men in Vanuatu should expect and deserve better.

In her next letter as she discusses urban myths; she suggests that it is a mothers fault a father abused a baby left in his care by feeding them medication to keep the child quiet; as if we can expect no better moral fibre, compassion or care from a father. The woman must be there at all times to prevent abuse. If it wasn’t so serious – Ms Cullwick’s claims are laughable.

She goes one step further to suggest a link between suicidality and mothers working attached to more of her urban myths; had Ms Cullwick read any research whatsoever on the subject of suicide she would understand what an uneducated and dangerous view this is; not mention completely inaccurate.

It is distressing that someone who is not only uneducated but has incredibly damaging views holds any position of power. I’d urge the Vanuatu Daily Post not to give her any further platform.

I would suggest the VNCW think extremely seriously about who they have as a leader- and look to having someone who will be a true advocate for them; as opposed to a woman so bitter and steeped in patriarchy she has lost her empathy and compassion for women across Vanuatu.


Katherine Ann