Students in Swaziland/Eswatini are selling themselves for sex to raise cash for food because the government has not paid their allowances.
A trade in young women has developed with businessmen 'pimping' students to affluent tourists from neighbouring South Africa, the Sunday edition of the Swazi Observer reported (5 November 2018).
According to the newspaper the students are taken from the Kwaluseni campus of the University of Eswatini (formerly UNISWA), 'for purposes of pimping them to affluent tourists flooding a popular hangout spot in Matsapha'.
The Observer reported, 'These businessmen take advantage of the girls' financial situation on campus and select "top of the grade" individuals for purposes of promoting their business into hosting upmarket guests. They also take advantage of the girl's academic statuses to market them to guests who arrive solely for purposes of whetting their sexual appetites.'
The newspaper reported, 'delayed payments of allowances which themselves are meagre force girl students into availing themselves for sexual favours in exchange for food, drinks and other goodies'.
It said the businessmen target the youngest first-year students.
It quoted one student saying, 'They become virtual call girls.' The student added the men spend fortunes on them and then demand sex.
There is an ongoing dispute between students and the government over the payment of scholarships and allowances that cover fees, living expenses and items such as books. In May 2017, the Swaziland National Union of Students (SNUS) launched a campaign for scholarships for all. They want the Swazi Government to reverse a decision taken eight years ago to prioritise courses and cut scholarships by 60 percent. Students want all students admitted to higher learning institutions to have scholarships, regardless of the programme they are doing or the institution they are in.
Meanwhile, the outgoing President of SNUS Brian Sangweni told its 11th National General Congress that thousands of high school graduates with good grades remained idle at home because the government would not pay them scholarships to study.
He said, 'Those who are lucky to make it and enrol into the institutions are also not off the hook of suffering due to lack of living allowances to enable them to live a healthy and dignified period of study and to realise their optimal potential.'
He added students were finding it hard to concentrate to their studies and some dropped out or committed suicide because of the pressure.