Swaziland
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ARE GOVT, PARLIAMENTARIANS LISTENING?

Sir,

We are grateful that there are still companies that continue to invest in social issues affecting the general population. By practicing corporate social responsibility companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental. It is well documented that gender-based violence is considered the most prevalent human right violation; in Eswatini and globally. It is estimated that one in three girls will experience some form of sexual violence by the time they are 18 years old in Eswatini. This happens while almost half of the Eswatini women will experience some form of sexual violence over their lifetime.

Violence

This violence is perpetrated by intimate partners such as husbands, boyfriends making a women’s home a very dangerous place to be. Also, there are reports of increased incidences of GBV at tertiary level and all this should shock society. This should not be allowed to persist. It took about 10 years for the country to enact the 2012 Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Act, following protracted advocacy action. What shocked many was the negativity that was displayed in the corridors of Parliament, where there was a call to repeal the legislation because it was viewed as harsh. We applaud those who opposed this move as it was betrayal to women and girls who are made to pay the ultimate price.

Therefore, it is interesting that the private sector has realised that Eswatini is facing an enormous problem that they cannot ignore but be part of the national response. The companies’ gesture is also in line with the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals which Eswatini has adopted based on the principle of ‘not leaving anyone behind’. A strong case has been made for GBV to be declared a national emergency, and one wonders if government is listening? Are parliamentarians, who were elected by emaSwati, listening? Declaring GBV as a national emergency will help. We have a good example in HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. When these were declared emergencies, the declaration unlocked the much needed resources and mobilised all sectors of society to fight both pandemics.