Source: Times of Swaziland
The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGGA) has said abducting young girls for the purpose of having sexual intercourse with them is a crime and cannot be cloaked under the guise of ‘traditional marriage’.The organisation was reacting to a story that appeared in this publication yesterday, where a 21- year-old man abducted a 15- year-old girl for the purpose of traditionally marrying her.
Mfanufikile Dlamini, of Maphalaleni, was arrested and charged for abducting the girl with intent to have sexual intercourse with her or to marry her. He, on Wednesday, appeared before Mbabane Magistrate Phathaphatha Mdluli, who cautioned and discharged him.
lamini claimed he was preparing to marry the young girl and had already introduced her to his parents.
SWAGAA Communications Officer, Maureen Littlejohn, said although traditionalists such as acting Ludzidzini Governor, Timothy Velabo Mtetwa, have said underage girls can traditionally marry as long as they and their parents have agreed, this notion was highly disturbing.
"Swazi law states it is illegal to engage in sexual relationships with girls under the age of 16 (Girls And Women’s Protection Act of 1920).
"What is most disturbing is the fact that most of these ‘marriages’ are forced, with the young girls having little or no say in being married to much older men. "The situation is often forced because either the family wants to receive payment or, if sexual relations have occurred (usually forced upon the girl), the family wants to save face."
She said they have read many tragic stories in the newspapers recently involving these types of marriages; from girls being forced to marry after being raped, to getting pregnant and dropping out of school as well as attempting suicide.
Littlejohn said what these girls were enduring in the name of ‘traditional marriage’ was a human rights violation.
She said Swaziland signed the Human Rights Declaration and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
"The Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of 2012 received assent from King Mswati III to protect the lives and dignity of all children in Swaziland.
"Protecting young Swazi girls from traditional marriages that they don’t want is a matter of principle. It is not a complicated legal issue, but is simply a matter of upholding human rights and Swazi law," she said.