Nearly a half of all abuse cases reported to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office in Swaziland involved children, And, most abusers were parents or someone well-known to the victim.
A total of 357 cases were reported in the financial year 2016 / 2017.
A report tabled at the Swazi Senate revealed 71 percent of the victims were females.
The most common abuse with 90 cases was described as ‘emotional / verbal’. There were also 76 cases of physical abuse and 69 of neglect.
A total of 47 percent of the cases involved children aged up to 11.
The Swazi Observer newspaper said that the report, ‘showed that children were at a greater risk of being violated as the same individuals who had an obligation to protect were the ones who were in most cases the perpetrators.
‘The most commonly reported survivor/perpetrator relationship was that of parent (mother/father).’
The abuse of children in Swaziland is not new. Swazi culture condones sex abuse of children, especially young girls. Child rapists often blame women for their action.
The State of the Swaziland Population report revealed that women who ‘sexually starve’ their husbands were blamed for the growing sexual abuse of children.
Men who were interviewed during the making of the report said they ‘salivate’ over children wearing skimpy clothes because their wives refused them sexual intercourse.
In Swaziland rape is against the law but Swazi Law and Custom allows a husband to rape his wife. This is contained in the 317-page document The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland (2013).
The United States Department of State report on human rights in Swaziland looking at 2016 stated, ‘The law criminalizes rape, but no law specifically addresses spousal rape. Rape was common, and the government rarely enforced the law effectively.
‘According to the Swaziland Action Group against Abuse (SWAGAA), one in three girls and women between ages 13 and 24 had been a victim of sexual violence. Although rape is legally defined as a crime, many men regarded it as a minor offense.
‘The number of reported cases was likely far lower than the actual number of cases, as many cases were dealt with at the family level. A sense of shame and helplessness often inhibited women from reporting such crimes, particularly when incest was involved.
‘The maximum sentence for conviction of rape is 15 years in prison, but the acquittal rate for rape was high, and sentences were generally lenient. Prosecutors reported difficulty obtaining the evidence required to try rape and domestic violence cases because witnesses feared testifying against accused rapists. There were few social workers or other intermediaries to work with victims and witnesses in order to obtain evidence.’
In 2015, a report from A US organisation ABCNewspoint stated that Swaziland had the fourth highest rate of rape in the world. It said there were 77.5 registered cases of rape among 100,000 people.
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