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Monday, 7 March 2011

VIGIL FOR SWAZI WOMEN’S RIGHTS

Action for Southern Africa Press Release

7 March 2011 [ London , UK ]

For immediate release

Rights for Swazi women on International Women’s Day says ACTSA

March 8 marks the centenary of International Women’s Day. Millions across the world will celebrate the achievements women have made in the struggle for gender equality whilst highlighting the inequality and discrimination women still face.

ACTSA in collaboration with Amnesty International UK will be holding a vigil, outside the Swaziland High Commission, to call for equality and rights for the women of Swaziland .

In Swaziland , women are not adequately protected by law from sexual violence, domestic violence or forced marriage. Most married women have no legal status independently of their husbands and cannot own property, leaving some with an impossible choice between violent abuse or utter destitution.

Although the Swazi government has signed a number of international agreements on gender equality, more than half a decade later, they have failed to change the laws that treat women as second class citizens. ACTSA are calling on the Swazi government to provide a clear timetable for changes in the laws that deny women protection from discrimination.

Chitra Karve, Vice Chair of ACTSA said:

“The Swazi government has had well over a decade and plenty of international support to reform the laws that undermine women’s rights. ACTSA joins the women of Swaziland in calling for end to the procrastination and for a clear timetable for changing these unjust laws.”

Notes

The Vigil for Legal Reform for Swazi Women will take place on Tuesday, 8th March 16.00 – 17.00, High Commission of the Kingdom of Swaziland, 20 Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6LB (5 mins from St. James’ Park or Victoria tube stations)

 Swaziland is Africa ’s only absolute monarchy, its people have endured the restrictions of a state of emergency since 1973. Swaziland has less political freedom than Zimbabwe , according to the respected Mo Ibrahim Index; political parties are banned and civic and political activists are regularly arrested, imprisoned and tortured. Swaziland has the highest HIV rate in the world, which disproportionately effects women, who often have the burden of care. The Royal Family and its entourage have amassed an immense wealth, whereas 69 per cent of the population live on less than a dollar a day.

 For more information about the legal rights of women in Swaziland see http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR55/007/2010/en/76f3571a-7070-4503-94a5-e9d6c8bc1f29/afr550072010en.pdf

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