More than 30 girls were thrashed because they did not dance half naked in front of Swaziland’s King Mswati III. They were beaten so badly some needed treatment from paramedics.
The girls, described in local media as ‘maidens’, were expected to take part in a ‘Reed Dance’ at Mbangweni Royal Residence in the Shiselweni region of the kingdom.
The Shiselweni Reed Dance is a regional version of a national Reed Dance that takes place each year near the beginning of September. Girls, who are expected to be virgins, from all over the kingdom are required to take part in the event where they dance topless in front of King Mswati, who is sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
Swazi media reported that at Shiselweni more than 30 girls disappeared from a camp where they were staying and did not attend the dance.
The Times of Swaziland reported, ‘Most of the girls, who were caned by their headmen, were beaten for not participating in the main event, while they left their respective homes under the pretext that they were going to the Reed Dance Ceremony.’
The newspaper added, ‘It was discovered that while the girls were being punished by the headmen, some got seriously injured as they tried to run away. Most of them were treated by paramedics, who attended to their case overnight (21 September 2014).’
The newspaper also reported that the police took one girl away who was suspected of being with a boy.
The Times reported, ‘Police officers arrived at the campsite and took the girl away to hospital for tests.
Assistant Superintendent Khulani Mamba, Deputy Police Information and Communications Officer, confirmed the incident.
‘He said the girl was taken to a health facility in order to find out whether there was any penetration that happened over the night.
‘Mamba said medical personnel ruled out the possibility of penetration.’
SWAZI GIRLS FACE PUBLIC WHIPPING