Saturday, August 12, 2017


Police have clamped down on sex workers operating on the streets of Swaziland. At least thirty have been given jail sentences with the option of a fine.

The arrested women say they have to do this work as they are unemployed and will go hungry.
The move has caused  the Swazi police chief to defend his officers’ action, saying they are only upholding the law.

Towns including the Swaziland capital Mbabane and the main commercial city Manzini have been targeted.

The arrested sex workers were give jail sentences of four months with the option of an E400 fine. In Swaziland seven in ten people have incomes less than E26 a day.

Lawyers for Human Rights in Swaziland said the arrests of the women was discriminatory because only the women and not their male clients were targeted. The arrests contravened the Swaziland Constitution which stated all people were equal under the law.

The Times of Swaziland reported on Tuesday (8 August 2017), ‘Well-known human rights lawyer Sipho Gumedze pointed out that the Crimes Act, in terms of which the sex workers were charged, was a legislation that was enacted during the dark years when black people were still considered subhuman by the colonial white settlers.’

National Commissioner of Police Isaac Magagula responded to media criticism of the police action. The Swazi Observer on Tuesday quoted him saying, ‘As long as laws prohibiting prostitute activities in the land are still there, don’t blame us when cracking the whip as it is our mandate to see to it that such laws are enforced.’

Manzini South Constituency Member of Parliament Owen Nxumalo who is also the Minister of Public Services told the Times of Swaziland newspaper that women could be helped away from prostitution through the Regional Development Fund.  ‘We have a fund that is aimed at alleviating poverty among the constituents and it can be accessible to them instead of engaging in sex work, which will end up being a drain to the country financially,’ the newspaper quoted him saying. 

In May 2017 it was reported that poverty-stricken parents of girls as young as fourteen were giving them to soldiers for sex in exchange for food.  

In July 2016 it was reported that women temporary employees at Swaziland’s Central Statistics Office (CSO) had been forced to have sex with their bosses to keep their jobs.

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