Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Married women in Swaziland are the property of their husbands, despite what the Swazi Constitution may say.

And that’s not only women in isolated rural areas: it’s wives in the sophisticated towns and cities as well.

The constitution says ‘women shall have equal opportunities as men in political, economic and social activities,’ but try telling that to the banks. It’s Section 28 (1) guys; go look it up.

Women, including those with independent jobs and incomes, cannot get bank loans without the consent of their husbands.

Among the banks discriminating against women is the South African-based Standard Bank, which has branches across the world, including in the United Kingdom.

A consultant at the bank, when contacted by the Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, said if a woman is married she definitely has to provide her husband’s contact details and identification.

The bank will then contact the husband to make sure the wife is telling the truth on her application for a loan. The bank also asks for the husband’s consent. No consent: no loan. And it doesn’t matter how much the woman earns, or if the money she wants is for her own personal use.

If the husband allows his wife to take out a loan with the bank, the bank gives him the right to revoke the agreement at any time he likes.

Another South African bank, First National Bank (FNB) also demands women give details of their husbands so FNB can confirm the woman isn’t lying.

Editor’s note: King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, who himself has at least 13 wives constantly tells the international community that Swaziland is on its way to becoming a First World nation.

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