Four in six married women interviewed by a newspaper in Swaziland said their husbands had the right to rape them.
The Swazi News reported on Saturday (21 October 2017) some wives said their husbands deserved sex whenever they wanted.
The newspaper did street interviews in the Swazi capital Mbabane. The women appeared to have been chosen at random, but the newspaper did not reveal how this was done.
A Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Bill is stalled in the Swazi Parliament because traditionalists object to four clauses about incest, unlawful stalking, abduction and flashing.
The newspaper reported, ‘With or without their consent, some women believe their husbands have a right to “rape” them.’
It added, ‘The reason given by four women out of the six interviewed was that part of their wifely duties was to provide sex to their husbands at all times.’
One woman said she had to give her husband ‘unlimited access to sex’ to stop him seeking pleasure elsewhere.
The Swazi News reported, ‘The women were of the view that their husbands should not be arrested because they were breadwinners.’
Section 151 of the SODV makes it clear that a marital relationship will not provide a defence against any offence.
Silindelo Nkosi, the Communication and Advocacy Officer for Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA), told the newspaper that forced sex within a marriage was recognised by international conventions that Swaziland had signed as a crime.
However, the SODV Bill runs counter to tradition and culture in Swaziland, where King Mswati III rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland, a document from 2013 that clarifies traditional law states that rape is committed only if the woman forced is not the man’s wife or lover.
It is not known how man husbands force themselves on their wives but recorded figures on rape have shown Swaziland to have the fourth highest rate of rape in the world. In 2015, a report from a US organisation ABCNewspoint stated there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among 100,000 people.
In traditional culture in Swaziland women are owned by their men (husbands or fathers). In 2015 a survey conducted in Swaziland suggested four in 10 women believed a husband was justified in beating his wife because he was the head of the household.
The APA news agency said at the time a demographic health survey called the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey Comparative Report gave a number reasons for wife-beating which included; ‘if she refused to have sex with him, if she argued with him, if she went out without telling him, if she neglected the children and if she had sex with other men’.
APA reported, ‘Silindelo Nkosi, the Communication and Advocacy Officer for Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) said, “These beliefs of justifying abuse have increased to the worst rate resulting in more young women dying in the hands of their lovers or husbands.”’
It added, ‘Clinical Psychologist Ndo Mdlalose describes this as an abusive mentality where men also tend to claim they are correcting their women by beating them.’
In June 2008 it was reported that the National Democratic and Health Survey found that 40 percent of men in Swaziland said it is all right to beat women. The same year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) found that the status of some women in Swaziland is so low that they are practically starved at meal times, because men folk eat first and if there is not enough food for everyone, the women must go without.
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