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Monday, 17 September, 2001, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Swazi King sex ban
King Mswati III of Swaziland
Policing the sex ban could be difficult
The Swazi monarch, King Mswati III, has revived a traditional law on chastity and has banned sex for young girls to preserve virginity and halt the spread of HIV/Aids.

According to an announcement made by the leader of the country's young women at the end of the King's 33rd birthday party, for five years maidens will be expected not to shake hands "with males, nor wear pants".

Any man who contravenes the chastity rules would be fined one cow or £152

Lungile Ndlovu added: "You will be expected to wear tassels wherever you go for the next five years."

It was not clear what age group is affected by the ban but Ms Ndlovu told the French news agency, AFP, that virgins would be required to wear blue with yellow "do not touch me" tassels.


Women in relationships and those who are older than 19 would be expected to wear red with black tassels.

A reporter for the Guardian of Swaziland newspaper in Mbabane told News Online that the ban, announced over the weekend, has met with mixed reactions.

He said there were protests from those who feel it might be impractical to enforce.

Young Swazis
Protecting young from sex could help fight against Aids

"Others genuinely believe celibacy could play a part in curbing HIV infections," he added.

An estimated 50,000 people in Swaziland are suspected to have died of Aids or Aids-related illnesses.

The country's population is about one million.

Any man who contravenes the maidens' chastity rule called "Imabali YeMaswati" or Flower of the Nation, which would be policed by traditional chiefs, would be fined one cow or $152.

The law was last envoked in 1982 by King Mswati's father but was not enforced following his death soon afterwards.

Swazi Senator, Constant Sinelane
"You cannot chaperon the girls everywhere. You¿ll just have to pray and hope"
See also:

10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Swaziland
25 Jun 01 | Africa
Anger at Swazi media decree
06 Nov 00 | Africa
Swazis protest at king's rule
31 Aug 00 | Africa
No new bride for Swazi king
25 Jul 01 | Africa
Swazi king bows to pressure
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