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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 07:57 GMT
Sex-ban Swazi king pays fine
The King of Swaziland
King Mswati III faced protests outside his palace
By Hilary Andersson in Johannesburg

The King of Swaziland, bowing to pressure from angry young women, has fined himself a cow for violating a chastity vow he imposed on the rest of the country.

In a very unusual demonstration, 300 young Swazi women gathered outside the royal palace and symbolically laid down their ceremonial tassels, designed as chastity belts to warn off men.

Young Swazis
Teenagers said the King had broken his own rules
They were showing how angry they were that King Mswati III had broken his own rules.

In an attempt to fight the massive problem of Aids in Swaziland, the King had asked Swazis to invoke a traditional chastity rite requiring virgins to abstain from sex for five years.

But not long after this he announced he was to marry a 17-year-old girl. Resentment among Swazi women grew when they learned that his fiancée was living at the royal palace.

Any man who breaks the cultural ban is fined an animal, such as a cow, or will be liable to pay about $160.

Villagers appeased

By way of apology, the King donated a cow to a village where it was barbecued and eaten.

The villagers were apparently appeased.

A staggering one-third of the population in Swaziland is infected with the HIV virus.

So far Aids is estimated to have killed 50,000 of Swaziland's one million people.

See also:

10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Swaziland
25 Jun 01 | Africa
Anger at Swazi media decree
26 Oct 01 | Africa
Swaziland dissent over no-sex ban
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
17 Sep 01 | Africa
Swazi King sex ban
28 Sep 01 | Africa
Swazi king takes eighth wife
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