Wednesday, August 24, 2005
MBABANE, Swaziland. Thousands of Swazi girls Tuesday celebrated the end of a ban on sexual activity on Tuesday, August 23 that had been imposed as a way to combat AIDS in one of the countries hit hardest by the epidemic. King Mswati III, Africa's last absolute monarch, had reinstated the "umchwasho" chastity ritual for five years in 2001, banning sexual relations for girls younger than 18. But the move was ridiculed as old-fashioned and unfairly focused on girls and the king himself was accused of ignoring it. The King’s decision marks the end of the "umchwasho" rite banning sex for girls younger than 18. The ancient rite was imposed in 2001 in a bid to slow the spread of AIDS. Experts said the ritual did little to slow AIDS in Swaziland, where 42.6 percent of pregnant women and up to 40 percent of adults are infected with the virus the highest rate in the world. By Thulani Mthethwa, The Associated Press, WashingtonPost.com.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/08/23/AR2005082300876.html?sub=AR, (Last visited August 24, 2005.)