Source: The Swazi Observer                                                                                                                                                                                                   It was in November 2010 that Hlobisile Ndlovu, while she was still Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs, caused controversy by saying 'when a woman says no to sexual advances, she actually means yes'.

Almost four years later, government has had to answer at an international stage for this statement because it is viewed as government's position since it was made by a person holding public office at the time.

On Thursday, Khangezile Dlamini, the Principal Secretary in the Deputy Prime Minister's Office, had to fend off questions from delegates attending the 58th Session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in Geneva, Switzerland, who brought up the statement.

"In Swaziland, one minister said when a woman says no, she means yes, when a woman says don't touch me, she means touch me further. To what extent is the parliament gender sensitive? How are the sexiest stereotypical speeches of government addressed?" the PS and her delegation were questioned. In response, the PS is said to have disowned Hlobi's views and said government was gender sensitive. The PS represented government together with Ambassador Njabu Dlamini and Economist in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lungi Magagula. Following her statement, Hlobi was heavily criticised by gender activists and other legislators amongst whom was former Ludzeludze MP Nonhlanhla Dlamini.


Others felt she had given armour to rapists who would use her statement as defence for their crimes.

That was not her only controversial statement as she went on to support polygamy and said she preferred a polygamous marriage as opposed to a monogamous one.

At the time, Ndlovu was in a monogamous marriage with Pastor Sam Fidelis but she is now divorced.

Hlobi also told pupils at Mhlatane High School that her first sexual encounter was rape which resulted in pregnancy.

This statement also received criticism from individuals who felt she had not been fair to her children because she suggested that her first child was a product of rape.

Meanwhile, at the CEDAW conference, Swaziland came under focus as the delegation was bombarded with questions on alleged acts of gender insensitiveness.

"A woman was murdered and burned. The perpetrator was prosecuted only for assault, for grievous bodily harm and arson," said one delegate.

Another said: "A woman with albinism was beheaded and dumped on the bank of a river. The sentence was only five years imprisonment."

The committee said it was concerned by the impunity that prevailed in cases touching on violence against women and girls as statistics showed that one in three young women experienced some form of sexual violence.

"Sexual violence including marital rape is a prevalence of alarming dimensions," said the committee.

"We don't condone men that abuse women in any form," the Swaziland delegation responded.

The PS admitted that people with albinism had been exposed to ritual murder but such an issue was being addressed within legislation pertaining to criminal procedure.

On violence against women, the PS reportedly reiterated that the Sexual Offences Bill, which is still held up in parliament, would be the solution.

The PS was asked on what government was doing to prioritise the Bill and have it passed quickly, but she could not commit to the time frame.

............Other issues that were raised on Swaziland:-

= The dual legal system disproportionately affects women and their access to justice in Swaziland.
= In Swaziland, there is discrimination against women participating in politics.
= Lack of finances is an excuse to justify lack of political will in Swaziland.
= Swaziland should implement a national action plan on CEDAW concluding observations within a four-year time frame.
= Swaziland's Marriage Act classifies women as minors and needs to be reviewed.
= Why is it taking more than nine years for Swaziland to pass the Sexual Offences Bill?
= Access to justice is being hindered by lack of an enabling legislation to operationalise the Human Rights Commission.
= Women should have access to all political areas and positions including being Head of State.

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