Being born in Swaziland. Swaziland is a small country and yet there are so many different lifestyles, education systems, what is expected of women and the whole notion of pregnancy. I was born in a westernized city and having a father from England, our household rules/beliefs were different from everyone elses. My mother was a free spirit. She believed that anything a man can do, she could do better. It was not always this way. She had never lived in the cities before and brought up in the poorest areas of Swaziland.When she was twelve years old, her father died and her family thought it was best to sell her to the chief of that community. The chief had already 9 wives and she was the youngest. For 6 years she had been molested and abused by her husband and his wives. Thankfully she did not have child with him. When she was 18 years old, she ran away with nothing and went into the cities to find a better life. needless to say, this is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the damages that pregnancies has had on young wives and raped victims even tweens who had unprotected sex and ended up taking their own lives in the process as well. Thankfully I went to a school where sex education, being a woman of worth, and abortion was talked about. It was our daily anthem. We were fortunate enough to be educated in the dangers of being pregnant at a young age and how that could either take our own lives or danger our children, since we were children ourselves. We were not forced to get married at a young age and yes abortion was not allowed when I was growing up. So it was up to the teachers to educate us as much as they could to prevent us from indulging in sexual activity at even a young age. But what of those schools that do not talk about the dangers of tween/teen pregnancies and being married off before they are fully developed. All of the orphans, Aids victims, too young to be wed situations happen in the villages and it is all considered "ok" because they all do it, when they youngest wife dies because of birth problems, the male can always take another wife. I say this is wrong. But, how do I get to convince the elders of those villages that what they are doing is inhumane. The schools in the villages do not even talk about the sex topic because it is culturally unacceptable. Until the government wakes to smell the roses, I believe that Swaziland as a whole will cease to exist. We need some sort of education system in these areas but most of all I believe that if we teach boy at a young age to respect a woman and not use them for sexual purposes, child pregnancies would decrease, sometimes traditions are the causes of these deranged actions of pregnancies,

Now that being said, illegal abortions are also increasing because of the amount of children engaging in sexual activities and also being afraid to tell their parents (culture does not permit anyone to engage in sexual activity until marriage or else would shun the family and be forced to be thrown out of the family). What do we do about something like this? How do you educate schools to be able to talk to their children about sex and not to shun them if they have engaged in that activity. I know that there are some women on here who have seen things like this in their own areas and I wonder how we can all collaborate together and actually find a way to reach out and do something... I would like to know what you guys think about this. Honestly I see a problem but finding a solution for would be finding ways to try make people see past traditions and look at reality, but it is hard when trying to convince an elder that.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Girls Transform the World 2013.


Dear Louise,

Thank you for all that you have shared here. In reading your work, one can get a strong picture of the enormous hardships faces by girls and young women in your communities. I hope you will, indeed, find ways to convince the elders of these villages to finally look beyond age-old traditions of injustice to women, and I think you are also wise to ask what men think of the issues of education, pregnancy and abortion in your country. Continue to speak out on behalf of your countrywomen, because in doing so you are already taking the first steps to creating solutions. I wish you ongoing strength, - Sarah

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby