Saturday, November 30, 2019

One in three female students at Swaziland university sexually assaulted in single year

More than one in three female students at the University of eSwatini reported they had been sexually assaulted in one year, academic research just published reveals.

The assault was most commonly committed by a boyfriend.

Only a minority of the students disclosed their assault to anybody, and many did not think their experiences were ‘sexual assault’ despite reporting experiences that met the legal definition of rape and sexual assault, the research published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence found.

Four researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, USA and the University of eSwatini, Faculty of Health Sciences, Mbabane, concluded there was a need to increase intervention and prevention efforts in eSwatini.

A total of 372 of the 1,498 female students enrolled full time (about one in four) at the University of eSwatini (UNESWA) Kwaluseni Campus (formerly University of Swaziland: UNISWA) took part in the research conducted in 2018.

Sixty percent of participants reported experiencing an attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime, and a total of 38 percent reported an assault in the previous 12 months. The vast majority (93 percent) of assailants were known to their victim, and the majority (56 percent) of perpetrators were ‘romantic partners’. The majority of participants in the research had never before disclosed their assault fearing they would be blamed or stigmatized.

Food insecurity, losing a parent before age 21, and hazardous drinking were all significantly associated with experiencing sexual assault in the previous 12 months, as was experiencing a previous assault before the age of 18. 

Previously published research suggested about 40 percent of Swazi women in the population as a whole reported that their first sexual encounter was forced or coerced and just over 11 percent of Swazi women had experienced forced sex in their lifetime. One in three young women aged 13 to 24 experienced some form of sexual violence before their 18th birthday. This was a rate 4.75 times the global average and nearly three times higher than that reported by women in the rest of Africa.

The researchers reported, ‘We found that sexual assault is extremely common in the lives of university women in the Kingdom of eSwatini. While lifetime rates of sexual assault were similar to those reported by women aged 18 to 24 in the general population, the prevalence of any attempted or completed sexual assault in the previous 12 months was approximately 1.8 times higher than that reported by women of a similar age. 

‘Moreover, we found that approximately 38 percent of women at the UNESWA experienced a completed sexual assault in the past 12 months—a rate nearly four times higher than that reported in the general population of 18 to 24 year olds.’

Taken together, these findings suggest that university women had a significant greater risk of experiencing sexual violence compared to other women in their age.

The researchers said, ‘Only one in five women whose experiences met the legal definition of rape labeled their experience as such. The majority of women who did not disclose their assaults said they did not do so either because they did not think what had happened was abuse, or because they did not know who to tell.’

The researchers said survivors felt that disclosing the assault, ‘meant running the risk of stigma, blame, mockery, and anger or disappointment from their families’. 

Survivors also felt that disclosing the assault to an institution, such as the university, was likely to be ‘re-traumatizing and unhelpful’. The researchers added findings suggested that women who had disclosed assault to their friends or family were not always been met with non-judgmental support.

The researchers suggested both formal and informal networks to support survivors could be created and reducing victim blaming might be one key approach for programming and policy makers to consider.

The researchers added, ‘Our findings suggest that there is a strong need for counseling services tailored to survivors of sexual assault in the region.’

See also

Sex violence a ‘national disaster’

Sex-starved Swazi men rape children

Friday, November 29, 2019

Rapes double in three months in Swaziland, violent crime on steady increase

The number of rapes reported in Swaziland (eSwatini) more than doubled in a three-month period. Violent crime is on a steady increase and house breaking and theft have also risen, according to an official report just published.

The number of rapes rose from 111 cases to 241 cases, the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) Performance Report for the second quarter ending 30 September 2019 stated.

The report added there had also been 27 murders and 34 attempted murders.

The statistics contradict the message often voiced by absolute monarch King Mswati III that Swaziland is a ‘peaceful’ kingdom.

The eSwatini News (formerly Swazi News) reported, ‘Violent crime is on a steady increase in the country as communities have to grapple with murder and armed robberies each day. House breaking and theft has also increased rapidly.’

The REPS report stated armed robbery had also doubled from 36 in the previous reporting period to 50. House breaking and robberies rose from 1,420 to 1,430.

A separate report released in March 2019 from the United States Overseas Security Advisory Council stated, ‘There is serious risk from crime in Mbabane. Although criminals consider Mbabane and Manzini prime grounds for operation due to the number of people, businesses, and affluent areas, the rate of crime reported in small towns and rural areas continues to increase.’

The report is published annually to guide US diplomats working in Swaziland. It warned, ‘Urban areas are particularly dangerous at night; do not interpret the presence of pedestrians as an indication of a secure/safe environment.

‘Residential burglary and petty theft are the most commonly reported crimes, occurring at all locations regardless of time. Criminals are generally interested in electronic devices and cash.

‘Most break-ins occur at homes without security guards and/or centrally monitored home alarm systems. Perimeter walls, security guards, window grilles, and centrally monitored alarm systems supported by security response teams are essential to ensure the safety of residents and homes. 

‘Although residential guard dogs commonly serve as a deterrent, they should not be a residence’s only line of defense. The general modus operandi of robbers is to target residences or businesses that have little/no security measures in place.

‘Criminals usually brandish edged weapons (e.g. knives or machetes), but the use of firearms has steadily increased in the past few years. While criminals generally rely on the threat of force to commit crimes, they will resort to physical, to include deadly, force if victims resist. While the murder rate remains lower than some African countries, Eswatini experiences violent deaths on a frequent basis; some have been particularly gruesome. Victims have been decapitated, with body parts mutilated or removed.’

See also

More crime fears in Swaziland
Swaziland a world hotspot for crime

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Swaziland ex-Govt minister in hiding after calling on absolute monarch to hand over power

A former government minister in Swaziland (eSwatini) is in hiding from police after he publicly called on absolute monarch King Mswati III to hand over power to the people.

Musa Nkambule, former Minister of Tourism and now Chairman of the party known as Sive Siyinqaba (Sibanje Sinje), fled from his home, the Swaziland News, an online newspaper reported.

The News said, ‘Sive Siyinqaba is a [conservative] political party dominated by powerful members of the royal family who are collectively working towards forcing King Mswati to hand over power to the people and transform the country into multi-party democracy.’

In an interview with the newspaper Nkambule said police wanted to arrest him for a statement he released on behalf of his political party. Nkambule appealed to the international community to protect him. 

The News reported Nkambule said ‘a battalion of police officers’ from Manzini and Mafutseni arrived at his home at Mafutseni on Sunday (24 November 2019). 

He said, ‘They then heavily assaulted my wife who was refusing to give them the house keys. When I asked them their mission, they said it was in connection with the statement I released on behalf of Sibanje Sinje, but they failed to produce an arrest warrant. They camped in my home and left around 8pm and that was when I managed to escape. I am now in hiding while consulting with the other members on the way forward.’

Later, in the early hours of Tuesday police raided Nkambule’s home and detained his wife, Zama Nkambule. They confiscated items including a laptop and political documents of Sive Siyinqaba.

Zama Nkambule told the Swaziland News, ‘They [police] said they were looking for my husband in relation to his political statement he made on an online platform. They produced a search warrant.’
She was taken to the police station, questioned and detained for an hour.

She said, ‘They said they had been sent by the State to take my husband to the police station.’

She added, ‘The conduct of the police is a clear indication that freedom of speech is not allowed in the country. Many Swazis are not happy with the way this country is governed and they have expressed that, sadly my husband had become the target.’

In its statement Sive Siyinqaba had criticised the King for his recent actions, including the purchase of a fleet of 15 luxury Rolls-Royce cars for himself and his wives which were estimated to have cost US$6 million and the purchase of a fleet of 126 BMW cars and motorbikes for ‘escort duties’. 

It said some aggrieved members of the royal family were holding meetings with the intention of advising the King to hand over power to the people before the situation got worse.

The statement read in part, ‘Sive Siyinqaba holds the view that someone [King Mswati] is on a suicide mission; unfortunately, he wants to sink with the whole country. We think it is time we say, we would rather remain afloat than to sink with you. High volumes of hundreds of millions in foreign exchange have been siphoned from the country to be spent in countries that need them less, in the form of competitive royal trips that we witnessed this year.’

It also said, ‘Rolls Royces and BMWs, expensive as they are, are a tip of the iceberg. More than half of the armed forces, police and correctional services are stationed as royal guards in every royal residence where the national flag fly. There are more police officers providing security to the first family and serving as escorts to each of the wives and children, than there are stationed in the country’s police stations, combined.’.

See also

Swaziland King buys himself fleet of 15 Rolls-Royce cars but there’s no money for public ambulances

Swaziland political parties unite in bid to end absolute king’s power