More than 10,500 cases of gender-based violence were recorded in Swaziland in 2016, according to figures just published.
Most cases were said to have been committed by relatives or intimidate partners, according to statistics from the National Surveillance System on Violence, published in the Swazi Observer on Tuesday (5 December 2017).
The total number of reported cases of gender-based violence in 2016 was 10,504 an increase of 58.6 percent from the previous two years. This prompted the newspaper which is in effect owned by King Mswati III, the kingdom’s absolute monarch, to say, ‘we have become a violent nation’.
Of the reported victims 73 percent were females and 27 percent males.
The report is one of a number that highlights the suffering woman face in Swaziland.
In 2015 a survey conducted in Swaziland suggested four in 10 women believe that a husband was justified in beating his wife because he is 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.”’
The world famous medical journal, the Lancet in 2009 reported that one in three girls in Swaziland had experienced sexual violence by the age of 18, according to a study.
Sexual violence was defined as forced intercourse; coerced intercourse; attempted unwanted intercourse; unwanted touching; and forced touching.
The most common perpetrators of the first incident of sexual violence were men or boys from the girl’s neighbourhood or boyfriends or husbands. Over a quarter of all incidents of sexual violence occurred in the respondent’s own home, with a fifth occurring at the home of a friend, relative or neighbour.
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.
Women, who under traditional Swazi law are treated as children and are in effect owned by their husbands or fathers, were expected to live lives devoted to their men and families. A report on the State of the Population in Swaziland said that Swazi women were responsible for childbirth, raising the children and taking care of the entire family.
Women are expected to give their husbands sex on demand and those who refuse have been blamed for men who rape children.
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