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Sibusiso Mkhonda on Focus on Africa
"Wearing of short skirts leads to males being attracted"
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Nozipho Dlamini on Network Africa
"What is too short, I don't know"
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Wednesday, 19 July, 2000, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Swaziland schools to ban mini-skirts
a street in the capital Mbabane
A quarter of Swaziland's 1m people have aids
School girls in Swaziland are to be prevented from wearing mini-skirts from the beginning of next year, in what the government is portraying as an attempt to halt the spread of Aids.

If you are exposing your thighs some people may get attracted to that and make advances

Director of Education Sibusiso Mkhonda
The House of Senate has already passed a motion seeking laws to end sexual relationships between teachers and their female pupils.

But the government blames schoolgirls for enticing teachers with their short skirts.

The new law requires that girls aged 10 years old and above must wear knee-length skirts or face expulsion if they breach the ban.

A quarter of Swaziland's population of one million is estimated to have have the deadly HIV virus and life expectancy is predicted to drop to 30 years from the present 38.


Talking to the BBC, Education Director Sibusiso Mkhonda said there was a feeling that "the wearing of short skirts leads to males being attracted to kids and perhaps eventually leading to more cases of promiscuity".

Swaziland's parliament
Tougher laws to curb spread of Aids
Explaining the link between short skirts and Aids, Mkhonda said "If you are exposing your thighs some people may get attracted to that and make advances".

In 1969, Swaziland banned all mini-skirts for morality reasons but the order lapsed because it was difficult to police dress codes in public.

Education officials feel a ban in schools would be easier to enforce.

Law enforcement

But a language teacher at Mvelamuve School in Lubombo region of South Eastern Swaziland, Nozipho Dlamini, cast doubts over the implementation of the proposed laws.

She said, "I feel that it will be a problem to enforce a law like this one. It will mean that somebody will have to go around the school checking out on children if they are wearing the right lengths of skirts or not. What is too short? Dlamini posed, "I don't know".

Swaziland, like its neighbours-South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, is struggling with an Aids crisis.

But Swaziland's efforts to curb the disease have been questioned by health experts.

While the mini-skirt debate continues to rage, the country's parliament has began debating another controversial piece of legislation considering the mandatory sterilisation of people infected with HIV/Aids.

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See also:

09 Jul 00 | Health
HIV spread 'could be checked'
10 Jul 00 | Africa
Stark warning over Aids apathy
08 Jul 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
Mothers preparing to die
10 Jul 00 | Health
Aids effect 'like Black Death'
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