Saturday, September 16, 2017


Male bosses in Swaziland demand sexual favours from their domestic workers, a new report reveals.
Many women quit their jobs rather than give themselves up for sex.

The information comes from Women and Law in Southern Africa - Swaziland (WLSA) where these cases were reported.

The Swazi Observer reported on Thursday (14 September 2017), 43 cases of exploitation against domestic workers had been reported to WLSA in the past three months. 

The reported cases include sexual abuse, not being released on off-days, working extremely hard with no specific time to knock off and being called names.

The Observer reported, ‘Late last month, a domestic worker, Gugu Hlatjwako endured five hours of torture allegedly by her employer who is said to have used a live electric cable while interrogating her for alleged theft.’

Sexual abuse of women by employers is not uncommon in Swaziland.

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

The women were engaged in the Swaziland Population and Housing Census and the Swaziland Household Income and Expenditure Surveys, according to a report in the Observer on Saturday newspaper (2 July 2016). It said senior employees who were employed on a permanent basis demanded sexual favours from the temporary workers if they wanted to keep their jobs.

An unnamed source told the newspaper, ‘The CSO bosses are taking advantage of the female staff. They have wives yet they use their power to have sex with the defenceless young girls so they can keep their jobs.’

Physical and sexual abuse has been prevalent in Swaziland’s textile industry for years. In July 2014 a survey of the Swaziland textile industry undertaken by the Trades Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) revealed workers were subjected to harsh and sometimes abusive conditions, many of the kingdom’s labour laws were routinely violated by employers, and union activists were targeted by employers for punishment. 

More than 90 percent of workers surveyed reported being punished by management for making errors, not meeting quotas or missing shifts. More than 70 percent of survey respondents reported witnessing verbal and physical abuse in their workplace by supervisors.

Commenting on the survey, the American labour federation AFL-CIO said, ‘Some workers reported that supervisors slap or hit workers with impunity. In one example, a worker knocked to the ground by a line manager was suspended during an investigation of the incident while the line manager continued in her job.

‘Women reported instances of sexual harassment, as well. Several workers said they or other contract (temporary) workers were offered a permanent job in exchange for sex.’

University students are also not immune from sexual abuse. In November 2012 it was reported at a Colloquium on Sexual Harassment in Higher Learning Institutions held at the University of Swaziland that some male lecturers demanded sex in return for good grades.

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