Daily Post, By Anita Roberts
Chiefs from West and South on Tanna said the news about a brothel operating on their island was only unjustified allegations.
They are disappointed and want the issue be put to rest.
The chiefs said they see the brothel story, which was featured on the front page of the Independent Newspaper last month as an insult to them as prominent leaders taking care of their people and upholding cultural values.
They joined the Tafea Provincial Government Council (TPGC) to raise concerns against the story.
By now, whole Vanuatu knows about the news and the rest of the world, the chiefs stressed in a statement sent to the Daily Post.
These chiefs, particularly from west and south Tanna, demand for the newspaper to reveal through its sources the whereabouts of the alleged brothel.
This is a very serious allegation against the people of Tanna and such activity is very disrespectful to our culture, said Chief Kalip Roger from the Isla Council of Chiefs.
A representative from the Nikoletan Council of Chiefs, Seth Kaurua, said: “We see the news as an insult to our capabilities.
“It has ruined our reputation and is degrading to our women and girls.
“We (the chiefs) take our roles and responsibilities very seriously.
“As a representative of Nikoletan, I am joining the TPGC to call onto the newspaper outlet to be accountable in its reporting and not overlook our hard working women who make genuine earnings.
“We do understand from a journalistic view that some sources are to be protected but, at least revealing some would help us (chiefs) fix the situation accordingly without violence.
“Nikoletan has a strong network and has been working hard to solve unacceptable behaviors within the Tanna society.
“We are working closely with chiefs around Tanna on the issue.
“Currently, we have no report and no glimpse of it though our office is located near CCECC headquarter,” he added.
The China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), being the only Chinese company operating on Tanna, was the centre of attention as the report said that the alleged brothel was catering to largely Chinese clients.
It demanded the newspaper to issue an apology but the newspaper declined.
According to the Independent, “some people on Tanna reported seeing more than one child of mixed blood since the brothel, which is near the headquarters of CCECC, was opened”.
But following the publication of the brothel story, a chief and CCECC representative approached the Lenakel Hospital to confirm whether there are records of children under such description born.
The Lenakel Hospital confirmed to the chiefs, including the Daily Post that no babies fitting that description were born there.
The chiefs conveyed that the hospital told them it has a good registration system whereby, the father of all children delivered there had to be identified and recorded, whether he is a married or unmarried father.
So far the chiefs of the surrounding areas and beyond CCECC headquarters had been engaging communities to figure out the so-called brothel.
The chairman of Nikoletan, Freeman, who is in Port Vila for the opening of the new chief’s nakamal said he is not aware of the news. However, he said such activity is against Tanna culture therefore, he will work with other colleague chiefs to find out whether it’s true when he returns home.
One of the chiefs from Lenakel, Kalo Nimisa, said: “I live close to the CCECC headquarters and I hardly see CCECC staff going out through the gate at night. They have a strong security system where the front gate is usually closed after official hours from 6.30pm and open again at 6.30am.”
CCECC said its workers are governed by strict rules which do not allow them to participate in extra-curricular and especially, culturally-sensitive activities, which may cause disruption.