Thursday, September 30, 2010


King Mswati III misled the General Assembly of the United Nations last week when he praised Swazi women for their role in development initiatives and for making the world a better place to live in.

He said Swaziland ‘continued to promote equality’ in all sectors of the kingdom.

His claim came just as a report in Swaziland revealed that a large proportion of Swazi women believe it is all right for their husbands to beat them.

The Swaziland Demographic Health Survey concluded that the women’s attitudes endorsed their lower status in Swaziland compared to men. It was also influenced by Swazi culture.

The survey asked women if a husband was justified in hitting or beating his wife in the following situations: If she burns the food; If she argues with him; If she goes out without telling him; If she refuses to have sex with him and If she has sex with other men.

The report says about four in 10 women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife for at least one of the six specified reasons.

These findings are shocking, but they are nothing new. In a previously published report it was revealed that forty percent of men in Swaziland say it is all right to beat their women.

It confirmed that in Swaziland women are treated as second-class citizens and in traditional custom and law they are in effect owned by their men (usually their husbands or fathers).

Here are some of the results of the survey:

- Most men and women believe that women cannot negotiate with their husbands to have safer sex.
- Women do not have power to make household decisions and they are most likely to have control over daily household purchases.
- Husbands often have the final say over visits to family or relatives and larger household purchases.

King Mswati likes to fool himself (and others who should know better) that the kingdom he rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch is on its way to becoming a ‘First World’ nation, but the women of Swaziland know the truth.

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