9 May 2019

Swaziland Police Fire Rubber Bullets At Schoolchildren Protesting Sexual Abuse By Teacher

Police fired rubber bullets and teargas at pupils at a school in Swaziland /eSwatini when they protested about sexual abuse on them by a teacher.

It happened at Mhubhe High School at Ngculwini, 15 km from the main commercial city of Manzini, the Times of Swaziland reported on Thursday (9 May 2019).

The newspaper said, 'The pupils were protesting against one of their teachers, who occupies a senior position in the school, whom they accused of sexually abusing female pupils in the learning institution.'

The Times reported pupils damaged property at the school. The Times called it 'Total mayhem!' and added, 'Rubber bullets and teargas canisters flew in the air.'

The Swazi Observer reported the school's administration block was vandalised and set on fire.

The school has been closed indefinitely.

The pupils were protesting against child sexual abuse, which is widespread in Swaziland. 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.

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,' SWAGAA reported.

In Swaziland rape is against the law but Swazi Law and Custom allows a husband to rape his wife. This is stated in the 317-page document The Indigenous Law and Custom of the Kingdom of Swaziland.

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