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Swazi Mother Challenges King For Abducting Her Daughter

King Mswati III of Swaziland was accused this month of abducting 18-year-old Zena Mahlangu. Lindiwe Dlamini, Mahlangu’s mother, insists that her daughter was taken without her consent. Mahlangu was selected by the King as a potential bride during the annual Reed Dance ceremony in September. This is the first time that the King’s choice in a new bride has ever been challenged. Dlamini is a leading figure in the Swaziland’s feminist movement. According to The Times in London, Dlamini stated that her “right to custody of [her] child will have been unlawfully infringed, and Zena’s rights to liberty, privacy and protection from abuse will have been breached.” While Swazi law prohibits anybody from suing, arresting, or prosecuting the king, she hopes that her statements will generate enough bad publicity that will eventually lead to her daughter’s return. Several human and women’s rights organizations are standing behind her. The organization Women in Law for Southern Africa stated that “this is abduction in the pure criminal sense,” according to The Daily Telegraph in London. It is customary for Swazi monarchs to select new brides and concubines at the Reed Dance ceremony where hundreds of young women dance bare-chested. In the past, palace representatives met with the families of the potential wives to discuss the wedding. However, according to Reuters, under Mswati’s rule this practice has been ignored and many teenage girls have been removed from school without consent of their parents. Mahlangu will be the king’s 12th wife; his father married 99 wives during his reign.

Sources:

Reuters 10/24/02, The Times 10/21/02, The Daily Telegraph 10/23/02

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