A total of 170 cases of rape of children under the age of 11 have been reported to police in Swaziland since January 2011.
A one-year-old child was among the victims.
Shocking though this news is; this is not unusual in Swaziland where children are routinely sexually and physically abused, often inthe name of ‘Swazi culture’. They are whipped, raped, starved, traded for sex, flung into jail for being poor, and thousands of them head up households.
The 170 cases were revealed by Swaziland Police Commissioner Isaac Magagula during the commemoration of Sixteen Days Against Gender-Based Violence on Wednesday (5 December 2012).
These figures are only the cases of rape that were reported to police, evidence suggests that many more cases go unreported. In 2008, Unicef reported that one in three girls in Swaziland were sexually abused, usually by a family member and often by their own fathers - 75 percent of the perpetrators of sexual violence were known to the victim.
Swazi culture is so perverted that many men believe it is all right torape children if their own wives are not giving them enough sex. In 2009, men who were interviewed during the making of the State of the Swaziland Population report said they ‘“salivate” over children wearing skimpy dress codes because they are sexually starved in their homes.’
The State of the Swaziland Population report also said that Swazi men blamed ‘modernisation’ for giving women and girls the idea that they do not need to obey their menfolk.
Not only are children abused by their families, each year scores of schoolteachers are investigated for having sex with their pupils.
According to one newspaper report, one of the reasons teachers get away with child abuse is that parents, especially in rural areas, ‘sold’ their daughters in return for groceries from male teachers.
When children are not being raped by their teachers they are being tortured in the name of discipline.
In October 2011, Swaziland was told by the United Nations Human Rights Periodic Review it must stop flogging children at school because it violated their human rights. But the fact that the practice of whippings is so ingrained in Swazi schools was demonstrated by Sibongile Mazibuko, President of the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), who said at the time he was surprised that inflicting corporal punishment was against a child’s rights.
The Save the Children organisation told the United Nations the treatment of children in Swaziland schools amounted to ‘torture’.
There are countless examples of extreme and often perverted use of corporal punishment in schools. At Mpofu High School girls are flogged by teachers on their bare flesh and if they resist they are chained down so the beating can continue. They get up to 40 strokes at a time.
At Phonjwane primary school teachers lined up to whip 20children. Each child received 27 lashes as nine teachers took it in turn to give each one three cuts. The children’s crime? They had been watching two boys fighting.
A nine-year-old primary school child from the Mafucula area in the Lubombo region was whipped with a sjambok so badly by her teacher she died of her injuries.
A 10-year-old girl at kaLanga Nazarene Primary school was blinded for life in her left eye after a splinter from a teacher’s stick flew and struck it during punishment. And she was not the child being punished. She was injured when her teacher was hitting another pupil, with a stick which broke.
Thirty five pupils of Oslo High School were whipped after a cell phone rang during a lesson. On this occasion a group of teachers illegally beat each member of the class.
At Lusoti Primary, teachers beat all the children in the school after one pupil made a noise in assembly.
Children at Emtfonjeni High School are whipped with up to 10 strokes of a stick, if their school fees are not paid.
The principal at Elangeni High even publicly flogs adults who date pupils at his school. The men are forced to attend in front of the entire school, lie down on a bench and receive a whipping. The girls are also flogged.