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Swaziland: New legislation outlaws child marriage

It’s called Kwendizisa in Swaziland, when a parent or guardian marries of a girl child to an adult male without her consent. A centuries old tradition, it has now been made illegal.

According to the Children’s Protection and Welfare Act of 2012, endorsed 8 September 2012, any person under 18, has the right to refuse to uphold any custom and other traditional practice which is likely to negatively affect them. Child marriage was previously tolerated under the 2005 Swaziland constitution, which allowed some customary practices provided they did not conflict with constitutional clauses.

In Swaziland, the practice of child marriage has been linked to the spread of HIV. Married adolescent girls are at a higher risk of contracting the virus because many of them are married to men who are in polygamous unions, face sexual violence or are unable to negotiate safe sex with their older husbands. Swaziland currently has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world.

For more information see Plus News and the Times of Swaziland.