28 March 2019

Swaziland Students Hold Hostage Lecturers Accused of Rape and Sexual Assault - Report

University lecturers in Swaziland/eSwatini were reportedly held hostage in their offices amid allegations that they had raped and sexually assaulted students.

It happened at the Kwaluseni campus of the University of Eswatini (formally UNISWA - University of Swaziland) on Wednesday (27 March 2019) and followed continuing allegations of mistreatment of students by academic staff.

A lecturer allegedly raped a 21-year-old student from the university last Friday, the Swazi Observer reported.

The newspaper reported, 'Students stormed the offices of the lecturers alleged to have sexually abused students and held them hostage. They proceeded to write messages on the doors to their offices, making it clear that they were tired of lecturers who abused students.'

It followed a separate allegation reported in the Observer's Sunday edition (24 March 2019) that a lecturer beat a pregnant student in full view of her colleagues. The newspaper reported the two had been in a persona relationship.

UNESWA Vice Chancellor Professor Justice Thwala said the lecturers had been suspended pending an independent inquiry. The police have been informed about the rape allegation.

Students have suffered sexual harassment for many years at the university, which has Swaziland's absolute monarch King Mswati III as its Chancellor. In 2017 details of harassment that had been taking place for years was made public. This included a male administrator showing his private parts to women students and demanding sexual favours from them before offering assistance.

In November 2012 it was reported at a Colloquium on Sexual Harassment in Higher Learning Institutions held at the University of Swaziland that some male lecturers demanded sex in return for good grades.

Women in all walks of life in Swaziland suffer sexual harassment routinely. In 2017 Women and Law in Southern Africa - Swaziland (WLSA) reported male bosses demanded sexual favours from their domestic workers.

In July 2016 it was reported that women temporary employees at Swaziland's Central Statistics Office (CSO) had allegedly been forced to have sex with their bosses to keep their jobs.

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