Only five in 100 people surveyed in Swaziland (eSwatini) said wife-beating was ‘sometimes’ or ‘always justified.’
The results suggest that attitudes are improving in the kingdom where in a 2015 survey four in ten married women in Swaziland said their husbands had the right to beat them.
In the new study Afrobarometer surveyed 34 countries in Africa. Swaziland was among the best in the survey. The average result across the countries was 28 percent. Full results of the survey are still to be published.
The survey result runs counter to the experience of women in Swaziland. A total of 2,068 cases of domestic violence were recorded in Swaziland between August 2018 and March 2019. There were also 430 cases of rape reported.
In traditional culture in Swaziland women are owned by their men (husbands or fathers). In the 2015 survey called the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey Comparative Report a number reasons for wife-beating were given by women 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’.
The APA news agency reported at the time, ‘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.”’
In June 2008 it was reported that the National Democratic and Health Survey found that 40 percent of men in Swaziland said it was all right to beat women. The same year, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) found that the status of some women in Swaziland was so low that they were practically starved at meal times, because men folk ate first and if there was not enough food for everyone, the women went without.
In 2013 a 317-page document called The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2013) was presented to King Mswati III who rules Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. It said that under Swazi Law and Custom a husband can legally rape his wife or his lover. Under Chapter 7, which addresses offences (emacala) in Swaziland, rape is said to be committed only if the woman forced is not the man’s wife or lover.
In October 2017 four of six married women interviewed on the streets of Mbabane by the Swazi News said their husbands had the right to rape them. It reported some wives said their husbands deserved sex whenever they wanted.
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.
Swazi culture and wife beating
Customary law lets husbands rape wives