Friday, August 19, 2005
BBC NEWS | Africa | Swazi king drops sex-ban tassels:
"Swaziland's King Mswati III has ended a five-year sex ban he imposed on the kingdom's teenage girls a year early.
The girls have had to wear large woollen tassels as a sign of their chastity since 2001. These are to be burnt in a huge ceremony on Tuesday.
The sex ban was imposed to fight the spread of HIV/Aids. Swaziland has one of the world's highest HIV infection rates, at about 40% of the population.
The king fined himself a cow for breaking the ban by marrying again.
He took a 17-year-old girl as his ninth wife just two months after imposing the sex-ban in September 2001, sparking unprecedented protests by Swazi women outside the royal palace.
Meanwhile, the health ministry has released new figures which show that 29% of Swazis aged 15-19 are HIV positive.
For pregnant women, the figures were 42%.