Stephanie Ephraim – Sista Gat Style

Check out these never before seen photos! Happy 38th Independence Vanuatu! 

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Stephanie Ephraim is no stranger to resistance. Her very existence as an activist, feminist, photographer, model and founder of Vanuatu Feminist Library has seen people attempt to put her down and shame her into submission. Stephanie refuses to be colonized by anyone – this young woman is free in her independence and dreams for everyone to live in a society where they are accepted and loved as they are. #RespectMyExistence #OrExpectMyResistance #ProudNiVan

Name:

Stephanie Ephraim

Age:

23

Occupation:

Gender Justice Officer at an Non- Government Organization

Tell us about your family?

My family are from Vanua Lava, Banks. We grew up in a small village outside Luganville, and moved when I was about 10 to Vila. I have two sisters and three brothers. Two are older, and three are younger than me. I’m growing closer and closer to the younger ones as they grow up. My mum had to work really, really hard to get us through school and to keep us in Vila. Things haven’t always been easy, and just like most families in Port Vila, money has been hard. My mum’s strength and hard work has been inspiring. As a strong woman who has faced many challenges, she is the root of my feminism.

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What do you like to do in your spare time?

First and foremost I am an activist and an advocate for human rights and equality, especially gender equality. The lines are blurry between work and hobbies, because that runs through everything. Learning more about how we can live better together is a hobby but also what I hope will be my life’s work.

I love photography, especially when I can get a bit artistic and expressive with it. I also love reading, but I didn’t always. Reading is something I’ve learned to love later. It started to make sense to me because you can really learn so much and expand your mind. I used to think reading was something to do with school, and school didn’t always seem very ‘real’.

That’s why I’ve started the Vanuatu Feminist Library because I’ve come across so many books that were really helpful about women’s issues. These books helped me to believe that we can push for change here in Vanuatu. There are books that teach you what feminism is, how the systems of the world we live in can often hold women back, sometimes without them noticing. There are things about being a feminist mother, about having a successful career as a woman, about challenging the system and pushing for change, about what has worked in other countries.

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At first, reading was a bit hard for me, so the library is also about encouraging people to read and supporting them through it by discussing the texts, organizing small events. The idea is to build a network of feminists so we can collaborate with ideas, projects, support and discussions.

I also love music, dancing, and great food! But who doesn’t, right?

I study Community Development at APTC and Gender equality and the health, rights, and wellbeing of girls and women at Women Deliver.

stephanie-ephraim-lekal-sista-gat-style

What do you aspire to do in the future?

I hope to be a part of a community of feminists, which can hopefully grow around the library, who can really push for positive changes to women’s and men’s lives in Vanuatu. A community which expands awareness of what’s possible for people of different genders, and how we can all benefit from having less rigid unwritten rules around what men and women must be and do.

Amongst all of these ambitions though, I also hope to be able to look after my family one day… my mother, father, my brothers and sisters, and that’s not even thinking of my own children one day. This is a reality for us here in Port Vila: most of us are pretty worried about making ends meet for the future, and sometimes that makes it hard to aim really high. It also means that not all of us can go to university, because we need to get to work and support our families. That’s another reason why I want to encourage people to come down to VFL.   Because we can all keep learning and growing through reading, even if it’s just ten or twenty minutes a day.

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How would you describe your style?

My style is relaxed and casual, but I feel like we all say that.   The truth is, you can attract a lot of negative attention if you dress up too much in Port Vila, whether its harassment or gossip. So I think many of us would like to dress up more, but play it down.

I love to dress up for photo shoots, I am wearing a dress made by Mia Bridal in this shoot.I alsolove to design extravagant outfits for my models. But I feel more comfortable wearing something a bit more relaxed around town. Bright colours look great with our melanin, and tight clothes look good on our feminine bodies!

I’ve always liked wearing jeans, and preferred sleeveless tops. I can’t handle colder weather, but I do like that it allows you to dress a bit more creatively sometimes. 

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Where do you buy your clothes from?

Mostly from Stret Price and other second hand shops here, because you can get good quality clothes that are affordable. The second-hand shop culture around Port Vila is great, because all sorts of different things come through, and you can find a range of styles. A few times I’ve been lucky to travel, and got some great clothes from second hand shops overseas as well.

Who influences your style?

I’m always inspired by confident women, who dress in their own personal style and wear it well. I’m more likely to be inspired by the woman than her clothes, but I do like it when women aren’t afraid to dress the way that they’re comfortable, and women who have a signature style.

What beauty products do you use?

I wear a watch that I absolutely love. I feel like it’s a detail that adds something to a look. I Perfume is expensive, but one day I’d love to wear Lancome’s ‘La Vie Est Belle’. Once I was given a small bottle of YSL ‘Parisienne’ and wore it on special occasions.

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Any fashion advice?

Mostly, be yourself because you look best when you feel good. But don’t be afraid to stand out and shine sometimes, even if it’s a little bit uncomfortable. We Ni-Vanuatu don’t like to stand out too much, but sometime we all deserve to be the most interesting person in the room. I say, every now and then, dress outside your comfort zone. Dress to make yourself say ‘damn, girl, you look cool.’


Assistant Stylist: Irene Abbock

Photographer: Nicky Kuautonga

Hair, beauty and nails: Body and Soul Vanuatu 


This article was originally published in the July edition of the Vanuatu Daily Post Life and Style magazine

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NEWS

  • Court briefs – June 15 2022

    Only 3 year jail term for 73-year-old stepfather who sexually violated pregnant stepdaughter Naling Willie Ikoiko appeared in Court for sentencing on a charge of sexual intercourse without consent. The complainant was 2 months pregnant and lived in Lowean Village. She decided to go down to the river to wash and swim, when she got close to the river she came across the defendant. Ikoiko is related to the complainant as he is the cousin of her biological father and effectively he is her stepfather. As the complainant approached, the defendant asked her if he could have sex with her. She said ‘no’, but notwithstanding that the Defendant grabbed her tightly, removed her clothes, positioned her on her knees and penetrated her. The complainant was crying at the time because she felt pain from the act. When the defendant finished he told the complainant not to tell anyone otherwise he would assault her with a knife. He also told her that he would always eavesdrop on her when she was with friends so she should not tell anyone what happened that day. The starting point sentence was set at 5 years. Aggravating factors such as threats of violence, high degree of cruelty in the offending and abuse of trust raised the sentence to 7 years. Considering mitigating factors such as Ikoiko’s age (73 years), no previous conviction and the time spent in custody the imprisonment period was set to 3 years and 11 months.   5 years in jail for man who raped mother of two Lala Elicien Apuvoke pleaded guilty to one charge of Sexual intercourse without consent. Apuvoke had approached the complainant when she was tying her bundle of firewood after sending her children home from firewood collecting. He asked her for sex and she refused him. She tried running but he grabbed her, tore her shirt, forced her down, tore all her remaining clothing and when she was crying out he punched her and threatened to kill her with her own bush knife. He hit her on the back of her head with a firewood, she fell down and when she was dizzy from her fall, he got on top of her and had sexual intercourse with her. The court found that the seriousness of this case was elevated by features such as the injuries that were recorded in her medical report, the degree of force and violence before the sex occurred, threats to cut the victim and unprotected sex. The starting point was 5 years’ imprisonment. The aggravating factors added 3 years, bringing the sentence to 8 years and mitigating factors such as early guilty plea, and good cooperation with the police took 3 years off, leaving the final term for imprisonment at 5 years.   Man jailed for fatal intentional assault of drunkard Jerome Warawara was found guilty on a charge of Intentional assault causing death. The deceased had approached Warawara. He used abusive, vulgar language and made intimidating hand gestures. He did not throw any punches, another man who was there with Warawara had tried talking to the drunkard, while that conversion was still happening, Warawara punched the drunkard who fell backwards and hit his head on a concrete slab causing blood to come out of his mouth. He was sober and the deceased did not throw the first punch, so the courts rejected that the act was of self-defence. 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After considering the mitigating factors such as remorse and the custom reconciliation both boys performed, their young ages and balancing it with the aggravating factors such as threatening violence towards the woman, the sentence was suspended for 2 years and 250 hours of community work each under assigned supervision officers.   Man threatened boat captain with an axe Henry Ben stood before court for sentencing on a charge of abusive or threatening language, which has a maximum sentence of 3 years’ imprisonment. On the date of the offending, Ben had an axe in his hand and made threatening gestures towards the complainant, saying he would cut him with the axe. Ben also said he would cut the boat captain into small pieces. The complainant had cause to feel very frightened and he reported the matter to the police. The courts considered the factors of the case and ruled that the 47 days when Ben was held in custody was sufficient to cover any sentences that could be imposed on him. 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  • Man jailed for sexually violating 7-year-old niece

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  • Neonatal tetanus death recorded at NPH

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