Women textile workers in Swaziland are so exploited by their bosses that they have to turn to prostitution to survive.
Workers in a factory in Matsanjeni typically earn as little as E80 (10 US dollars) a fortnight and are sometimes paid weeks late.
High poverty levels among the populations of Lavumisa, Nsubane, Somntongo, Matsanjeni and Siphambanweni force young men into crime and girls into early prostitution.
Sibongile Maziya is one of several women who ‘emigrated’ from Siteki to Matsanjeni shortly after the garment factory closed shop in her town and another opened further south.
The Weekend Observer, a newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, visited the remote Swaziland areas of Lavumisa, Nsubane, Somntongo, Matsanjeni and Siphambanweni and found high levels of poverty that forced young men into crime and girls into prostitution.
The newspaper told the story of one young woman who ‘emigrated’ from Siteki to Matsanjeni shortly after the garment factory closed shop in her town and another opened further south.
The Observer reports, ‘At first the wage payouts were regular and she could afford to pay rent and enjoy two meals a day. Things have changed for the worst. Last month alone they were paid two weeks late and very low wages of at most E80 for a fortnight.
‘The hamlet of Lavumisa is relatively quiet during the day but there are pockets of life at weekends with a few watering holes and a colonial hotel a few metres from the border showing some sparks of nightlife.
‘But you must come in the evening or even on a working day when truckers make a stopover before crossing the border out of Swaziland or from South Africa. The local young girls and some of the day shift Matsanjeni textile workers jostle for the truck drivers for a quick round of sex at very competitive fees, at times as low as E10.’
This is not an isolated incident as women textile works have previously revealed they have to work as prostitutes to get enough to afford food.
It was also reported in July 2008 that bosses at textile factories were demanding sex from women in return for jobs.
In March 2008 it was revealed that textile workers in Matsapha were so poorly paid that some were close to starvation.