Swaziland: Call for Swazi Men and Women to Share Experiences of Gender-Based Violence

A campaign is underway in Swaziland (eSwatini) aimed at getting both women and men to share their experiences of gender-based violence. They are being asked to write their own stories as part of 'My Body, My Experience.'

The Swaziland Youth Congress (SWAYOCO) in a statement widely circulated on social media said, 'Magnitudes of women and children are subjected to gender-based violence (GBV). GBV is not only limited to the home but it is a lived experience even outside the home. It is prevalent in the workplaces, cultural (national events), in schools and tertiary institutions.

'Many laws are in place in Swaziland to combat GBV but unfortunately it persists. The enactment of Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act has been welcomed with mixed feelings. Enthusiasm from women activists and the progressive camp, whilst the conservatives and traditionalists remain skeptical.'

A demonstration in Manzini, the main commercial city of Swaziland, in August 2019 called for the increase in the number of murders of women and children in the kingdom to be declared a national emergency. The call for action echoed one made by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in September 2018. It said it would support the kingdom's government and make GBV a national crisis. UNFPA's Officer In Charge Margaret Thwala-Tembe told a workshop that marginalised and vulnerable groups such as persons living with disabilities and LGBTI should be included.

The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) has reported that one in three Swazi girls will experience some form of sexual violence by the time they are 18 years old, while almost half of Swazi women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lives.

The stories from 'My Body, My Experience' will be published online as part of the United Nations' 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence which runs from 25 November to 10 December 2019.

SWAYOCO said the call for stories was open to the general public. 'We encourage everyone to share their story especially the traditionally marginalized groups such as people living with disabilities, lesbian, bisexual and trans-identified. In as much as the campaign is focused on women, children and other vulnerable groups, men cannot be left behind because they are also victims just as they are also offenders.'

Submissions guidelines:

Stories must be written in the first person ('I' statements).

Submissions must be made in either Siswati or English language.

Note: Please say if you want to remain anonymous.

Submission deadline is 15 November 2019 in Word format to email swayocop@gmail.com subject line - my body my story. They can also be sent via whatsapp (+26876957762). Approved stories shall be published on SWAYOCO's online platforms and shared with partner organizations for wider publicity.

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