A member of parliament and member of the Royal Family in Swaziland (eSwatini) Senator Princess Phumelele said women had a duty to allow their husbands to have sex with them and they should not refuse.
She also criticised parliament for passing the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Act in 2018.
The eSwatini Observer (formerly Swazi Observer) reported, ‘She said it was wrong for women to be allowed to refuse their spouses conjugal rights yet it was their responsibility to do so.’
It added, ‘She said she wondered how the Act was passed by Parliament because some of the legislators were against it, seeing that they cause more violence as it would be difficult for men to accept that their wives would sometimes refuse to help them sexually.’
The Observer reported she said if wives wanted to be sexually satisfied, the husbands had to be responsible for that satisfaction. If any of the parties wanted sexual satisfaction, there should be no reason for the other party to refuse.
Later, Women and Law in Southern Africa (WLSA) Director Xolani Hlatjwako said, ‘Women have the right to say no in any circumstance, even if they’re married. We had advocated for the inclusion of marital rape in the SODV for this very reason: so that it may be known that women are not objects for men’s sexual pleasure.’
She told the Observer, ‘Princess Phumelele, for someone in her position, owes the nation an apology and should retract her statement.’
The Princess, along with all other Senators in Swaziland, is not elected but appointed by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
In April 2018 Princess Phumelele told a consultative meeting with the Senate Deputy Prime Minister’s office portfolio committee that married women who did not want to be raped by their husbands should avoid sleeping in the bedroom.
The Swazi Observer, reported at the time that the Princess, ‘said in the event a wife was not in the mood to engage in sexual activities they should not sleep in the same room as their husbands so that they don’t find themselves in a tricky situation.
‘She said long ago Swazi women would go back home in the event they were faced with such problems in their marital home.’
The newspaper reported her saying, ‘Do not allow him to touch or play with you because he might think you are playing hard to get.’
In traditional Swazi culture women are treated as children who are owned by their menfolk (usually their husbands or fathers.) They have no legal rights.
In October 2017, four in six married women interviewed by a newspaper in Swaziland said their husbands had the right to rape them. The Swazi News reported some wives said their husbands deserved sex whenever they wanted.
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