Family life in Swaziland is based on traditions. Marriage is usually arranged by the parents forms a permanent bond between the families of the bride and groom. As is custom elsewhere in Africa, the bridegroom’s family provides a number of cattle, or “lobola”, to the bride’s family.
The birth and arrival of a child in Swaziland is a source of great joy to all the members of the family. Children in Swaziland are taught to be responsible at a very early age. As there are many AIDS-orphans in the country due to the high prevalence of the disease, many families, especially in the rural areas, are child-headed.
Swaziland also has a very high rate of child abuse, including both violent abuse and sexual abuse of children, and the beating or flogging of Swazi school children is not unusual. One in three girls in Swaziland are believed to have been the victims of rape according to a UNICEF report, hundreds of young girls are raped every year, and many girl orphans are trafficked for sex. Swaziland has no law specifically prohibiting trafficking. Members of the royal family also have a record having sex with minors, including the King and Prince Logcogco. The latter admitted to being the father of a 4-years-old child of a 18 year old mother. The mother also accused the Prince of abusing the four-year-old child.
The father is the head of the homestead, and his authority is supposed to be respected and obeyed. Girls learn at an early age that they are inferior to boys, as the position of Women in Swaziland is they are legally equivalent to children and treated as such. There have been some improvement however, as women are now able to acquire a drivers license and an international passport without the written consent of their husbands. Swaziland have also signed all international treaties on Women’s and Children’s Rights, including the CEDAW Convention, but the government is yet to implement them.
Swazi family values means that Swaziland is a strictly heterosexual society. Swaziland officially has no gays or lesbians, as being a homosexual is in conflict with Swazi tradition. Any person to come out as a gay or lesbian is therefore publicly ridiculed and humiliated, in the newspapers and elsewhere.