Swaziland females 'at risk of abuse'

Sexual violence against female minors in the state of Swaziland is linked to lifetime STD contraction, pregnancy complications or miscarriage, unwanted pregnancy and depression, according to a new report.

Published in the Lancet, the research conducted by Dr Avid Reza and Dr Matthew Breidling of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, US, suggests that such abuse is "a significant concern" in the landlocked southern African country.

The authors report: "This study documents that sexual violence against girls younger than 18 years of age affected one in three women aged 13 - 24 years in Swaziland and has serious health consequences.

"About five per cent of girls had forced intercourse and nine per cent had coerced intercourse before 18 years of age."

They added that this pattern could indicate the vulnerability of girls to victimisation and the importance of cultural factors that influence relationships between men, women and children.

Last week, HIV and Aids charity Avert claimed social inequality around the world makes women more vulnerable to infection than their male counterparts.Image removed.