A couple in Swaziland / eSwatini might face up to 15 years in jail because they had sex in front of a child.
It is thought to be the first case of its kind brought under the new Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence (SODV) Act.
Nkosinathi Mamba, aged 24, and Nonhle Ndlovu, aged 23, have been remanded on bail by Siphofaneni Circuit Court on 29 March 2019.
The court was told that the couple had sex in front of a nine-year-old who was accompanied by an elderly man. The man reported them to the police. They pleaded guilty at court, according to the Times of Swaziland.
They were charged under Section 41 of the SODV Act which came into force in 2018 and states it is illegal to compel or cause a child to be present or to watch that person while committing a sexual act.
The Times reported Mamba told Siphofaneni Circuit Court they thought the man and child were asleep.
It took about 10 years for the SODV Bill to go through the Swaziland Parliament before it was finally passed in 2018. Its main aim was to prevent violence against women but it also contained a number of clauses that offended traditionalists in the male-dominated society. Swaziland is ruled by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch. He had 15 wives before one ran away and another died.
Commenting in 2018 on the SODV Bill before it was passed the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said attitudes in Swaziland towards domestic violence demonstrated strong support for traditional gender roles, high levels of rape-supportive attitudes and tolerant attitudes for violence.
The ICJ said, ‘For example, only 51 per cent of men have been surveyed as believing that a woman may refuse to have sexual intercourse with her husband, while 88 per cent believe a woman should obey her husband and 45 per cent believe a husband has a right to punish his wife if she does something he deems is wrong.’
Other offences under the SODV Act include having sex with animals (maximum 10 years jail); having sex with a dead person (15 years jail) and flashing genitals or anus (5 years).
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