The Women’s Correctional Facility at Stade, Port Vila. Photo – Doddy Morris

Female detainees in the Te’a Silae Welu N’matu Correctional Services Facility at Stade, Port Vila are facing challenges with their limited supply of toiletries, particularly one (1) toilet paper for two weeks and a single packet of sanitary pad each month.

The Te’a Silae Welu N’matu Correctional Service has six detainees. The youngest one is a 28-year-old and the oldest is 73 years old.

The majority of the detainees are in jail for theft.

Sometimes, the detainees’ supply of toiletries is depleted, as the toilet paper is only issued once every two weeks, and a sanitary packet which contains only eight pieces once a month.

Bibi Nabilah, a foreign detainee who has been in the Correctional Services for almost four years said as a foreigner, sometimes she has to make sure she has money to pay for her own toilet papers and pads.

“For us women, to use one (1) toilet paper for two weeks is not enough, especially when we have our period, it is just not enough,” said Mrs. Nabilah.

“What we do is we just buy our own toilet paper. As for me when I open a single roll of toilet paper, it will be finished within two to three days.”

Another issue the female detainees are facing is the lateness of the arrival of the sanitary pads. Sometimes they received their sanitary pads three to four days late from the actual date.

“Some of us must find our own stayfree pads; if we don’t have any, we must ask our friends; if they don’t have any, we must simply use what we have,” Mrs. Nabilah added.

“We have occasionally tried using pieces of cloth, but given that we had read that the incidence of cervical cancer has grown in Vanuatu, this was not even hygienic for us to do.”

A Correctional Services officer at the facility said when the detainees are short on sanitary pads; their main office is responsible budgetwise, and there are staff responsible to sort out the issue.

“Sometimes the sanitary pads came late, but despite the lateness they will definitely receive their sanitary pads,” the officer said.

“We have told our bosses about this issues and they have told us to increase the numbers of toilet papers and sanitary pads, but so far nothing has changed.”

Leias Cullwick, the Executive Director of the Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW), said this is very irresponsible from the Authority; and it is totally against human rights.

“One toilet paper for two weeks for a female, no way,” she said.

“A packet of sanitary pads for a month is incredible, those who take care of these women in Corrections are not doing their job properly.

“This is just incredible, the way people in authority are doing things. There should be a change immediately.”