Sex ban lifted in Swaziland

From BBC NEWS

Swazi girls burn sex-ban tassels

A pile of thousands of woollen tassels symbolising chastity has been set on fire in Swaziland to mark the end of a sex ban imposed by King Mswati III.

The secret ceremony took place at the crack of dawn. Men were banned.

After the tassels were burnt, some 40,000 Swazi girls went off to get washed in a river, in a symbolic cleansing ceremony.

The ban was started by the king in 2001 to fight the spread of HIV/Aids. Some 40% of Swazi citizens are HIV positive.

However, the ban was ended a year early amid strong criticism. No official reason was given.

Just two months after imposing the ban, the king fined himself a cow for breaking the ban by taking a 17-year-old girl as his ninth wife, sparking unprecedented protests by Swazi women outside the royal palace.

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