The Truth About Swazi King's Alleged Tests Of Virgins

The Truth About Swazi King's Alleged Tests Of Virgins

A story about an old tradition in Swaziland where a king chooses a new bride every year by publicly testing topless under-aged girls has stirred dust and counter claims. It is high time to debunk one more viral news.

The Truth About Swazi King's Alleged Tests Of Virgins
King Mswat III is said to have publicly tested the virginity of young maidens before picking a wife. Photo: Reuters

According to, a Nigerian website falsely claimed that girls and young women in Swaziland were forced to undergo public virginity tests before King Mswati III decides whether to take them as his wives.

The Truth About Swazi King's Alleged Tests Of Virgins
Teenage girls were said to be tested publicly

The report is said to have brought widespread condemnation from opponents and supporters of the king alike.

The Truth About Swazi King's Alleged Tests Of Virgins
King Mswat III said that published disturbing pictures on August 4. The captions said young ladies were undergoing virginity tests before the king chooses a bride.

"Although the pictures do show such tests, they do not show Swazi women. The photographs had previously appeared on a Malaysian-based website in 2009. They were used to illustrate a report saying 'thousands of girls' in South Africa 'were queueing up each month to prove that they are virgins'."

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Further research on the web shows the pictures might date from before 2009, possible as early as 2001.

The Truth About Swazi King's Alleged Tests Of Virgins
Thousands of girls were said to have come of for the ceremony

The pictures used by online media put King Mswati in bad light. One photograph was captioned: 'Under aged girls publicly undergoing virginity tests before King Mswati can choose a bride.'

The Truth About Swazi King's Alleged Tests Of Virgins

The controversial report concluded: "Many consider this barbaric and backward but it seems to be a tradition the people willingly live by."

The publication of the distorted fact caused a fury on social media, as many of the writers were not supporters of King Mswati, who rules Swaziland as the sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch.

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It is pertinent to note that political parties are banned from taking part in elections and political and civil rights are severely curtailed in his kingdom.

However, on the defaming story, even people who oppose the king politically wrote to support Swaziland and its people:

"As much as we are against the regime but this is not true and these aren't Swazis in this picture."

"If you're looking for something to criticize about this beautiful land, let it be on truth and well established facts."

"I am no advocate of my country but this post is b******t," a furious reader wrote to

Meanwhile, it is recalled that in September 2013, Telegraph UK wrote a story which talked about how King Mswat III who as of the was 45, took an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant to be his 15th wife.

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The report stated that the teenager and thousands of other Swazi maidens danced bare-breasted before him at the annual Reed Dance in August.

According to the story, she was presented to the general public, wearing the Swazi royal family's trademark red feathers in her hair, at an additional Reed Dance in the southern provincial capital, Nhlangano, which was set up to broaden the king's choice from his young female subjects.

King Mswati is often criticised in the international media and on the Internet for his lavish lifestyle. He has a private jet, fleets of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars and 13 palaces. He regularly travels across the world in an opulent style.

However, seven in ten people in his kingdom live in abject poverty with incomes less than two US dollars a day.


Khadijah Thabit avatar

Khadijah Thabit (Copyeditor) Khadijah Thabit is an editor with over 3 years of experience editing and managing contents such as articles, blogs, newsletters and social leads. She has a BA in English and Literary Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Khadijah joined in September 2020 as a copyeditor and proofreader for the Human Interest, Current Affairs, Business, Sports and PR desks. As a grammar police, she develops her skills by reading novels and dictionaries. Email:

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