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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 18:06 GMT
Swazis want their sex shops back
King Mswati III fiancée wearing a tassel
Tassels were re-introduced to deter underage sex
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By Bhekie Matsebula
BBC Swaziland reporter

Swaziland's parliament has called for the re-introduction of sex shops in order to reduce rape and combat the spread of HIV and Aids in the country.

The proposal was made on Monday by Senator Mbho Shongwe who argued that bringing back the sex shops would encourage sex-hungry men to use them instead of committing rape.

Femidom (female condom)
Swazi traditions forbid sex tools

Mr Shongwe's recommendation received full support from the parliament, including staunch supporters of the country's traditions.

In a country where official statistics released on Monday indicate that over 37 people die of Aids every day, any measure to combat the disease would be welcome.

But this is a dramatic u-turn for parliament which only last year shut down the capital's Loveland Sex Shop that sold sex toys.


Parliamentarians had then argued that such tools promoted prostitution and homosexuality which was not accepted by Swazi customs and traditions.

Supporting the proposal on Monday, Princess Phetfwayini told the house that Swazi culture was out of date, adding that the move would help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

King Mswati III
Swaziland clings to ancient traditions

Whilst welcoming the recommendation, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Chief Maweni Simelane, said that re-opening such shops was prohibited by law.

Last year, King Mswati III re-introduced an ancient Swazi tradition, which required girls under 18 to wear a set of "umcwasho" tassels, as a mark of chastity.

The monarch said that the custom would be used as part of the country's HIV/Aids campaign.

More than 50,000 Swazis have so far died of Aids and there are an estimated 250,000 victims of the killer disease in the tiny African kingdom.

See also:

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12 Nov 01 | Africa
Sex-ban Swazi king pays fine
26 Oct 01 | Africa
Swaziland dissent over no-sex ban
17 Sep 01 | Africa
Swazi King sex ban
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Swazi king takes eighth wife
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Swaziland
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