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The Oppression of Swazi Women and Talk Radio, Far and Near

(I owe my awareness of these stories to Martin Striz and Tom Tomorrow)

In Swaziland, a tiny country surrounded by South Africa, sub-saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy maintains a regime of tyranny over the women of the nation. Under Swazi law, women are considered minors, and cannot own property, acquire a bank loan, or enter into a legal contract without the consent of a male relative. The King is promising that a new constitution will be written sometime soon now, but with no commissions or discussion at all in the palace about gender equity, its’ likely that this new constitution will merely recycle status quo ante as far as women are concerned.

In a recent fit of misogyny that veers into the completely senseless, Jim Gama, a power behind the throne and Right-wing hate radio host near the capital Mbabane has ordered that soldiers strip women wearing trousers in the royal villages. (One is reminded of the Shah’s charming little habit of having soldiers tear off women’s chadors with bayonetts during his campaign of forced Westernization.) According to women’s rights activist Pholile Dlamini, Gama became the most powerful traditional authority in Swaziland because he "endeared himself to the national leadership by being a super traditionalist who regularly belittled women on the air."

Meanwhile, in totally unrelated news that I don’t at all intend to link with the preceding story: power-behind-the-throne Dick Cheney decided to spend the anniversary of the September 11th massacre building national unity and currying mainstream consensus by sitting down for an interview with Rush Limbaugh, a Right-wing hate radio host who endeared himself to the national leadership by being a super-traditionalist who regularly belittles women on the air.

But I digress.

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