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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
MPs defend Swazi bare breasts
By Tom Holloway
BBC, Mbabane

Swazi women
Swaziland has a high incidence of HIV/Aids
Swazi politicians are defending the right of women in traditional dress to expose their breasts.

A visiting Nigerian priest angered MPs by saying naked breasts are indecent and encourage the spread of HIV/Aids.

The priest, who calls himself Apostle Oseadeba Saint Ekho also said during a special prayer service in parliament that praying to ancestors is outdated.

"How can you claim to be fighting the spread of HIV/Aids when you have billboards of bare-breasted women," he said.

Swazi men are attracted by women's naked thighs not their breasts
Masalekhaya Simelane

He cited an advertisement near the capital's international airport which welcoming people to the African kingdom shows a bare-breasted Swazi woman.

He said the kingdom had many other things to offer, other than bare breasts

Priest 'ill-informed'

On worshipping ancestors, he said: "How can I ask for any help from my ancestors when they know nothing of this fast-moving technological world we live in today. They would only be confused".

When the remarks were raised in parliament on Wednesday, politicians said his remarks were insensitive and insulting.

"It is evident that Apostle Saint Ekho is ill-informed about Swazis and their culture," senator Masalekhaya Simelane said.

"Swazi men are attracted by women's naked thighs not their breasts," he said.

However, local church leaders have said the Swazi custom of women exposing their breasts is often commercially exploited.

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Country profile: Swaziland
06 Mar 03  |  Country profiles

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