Teenage pregnancies and gender-based violence in Swaziland (eSwatini) have risen during the present coronavirus lockdown, Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku reported.
He said out of 400 schools surveyed, 261 teenagers were found to be pregnant. Of these 44 were in primary school and 217 in secondary and high school. Many schools have been closed as part of a national patrial lockdown to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
He said this at the Council of Swaziland Churches annual general meeting in Manzini.
He also said that during lockdown there had been an increase in the number of gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual violence cases reported. He said the reports were made at a time when his office had started a campaign to end unintended pregnancies.
He said children, women, men and persons with disability were abused in different forms. He called this a violation of human rights.
He called on churches to use the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act (SODV) to help combat this ‘scourge’.
In October 2020, Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini blamed the use of alcohol for some of the violence. He spoke following reports of women and children who had been murdered mostly by their lovers. This included a mother and her four-year-old son who were allegedly stabbed and had their throats slit open by a man believed to be her boyfriend.
In September 2020 a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report stated the coronavirus pandemic had led to an increase in sexual and gender-based violence against children. According to official Swazi police figures, during the period of lockdown between 27 March and 19 April, 299 sexual and gender-based violence cases were reported of which 53 were rape and 213 domestic violence cases. The age group 12 to 17 years had been more vulnerable to sexual violence. In April alone, 30 out of 47 reported rape cases were from this group.
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