Swazi women protest royal shopping trip

Aug. 21, 2008 at 7:54 PM

LOBAMBA, Swaziland, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Hundreds of women marched on the streets of Lobamba, Swaziland, in protest of a shopping trip taken by nine of the king's wives, participants said.

The march, organized by Positive Living, a non-governmental organization for women with AIDS, culminated in protesters handing a petition to the country's Finance Ministry saying the money spent to send nine of King Mswati III's 13 wives to Europe and the Middle East for shopping could have been better used on the home front, the BBC reported Thursday.

"We can't afford a shopping trip when a quarter of the nation lives on food aid," some of the women chanted.

"We need to keep that money for ARVs (anti-retrovirals)," other protesters shouted.

Swaziland is considered one of the world's poorest nations and it has been estimated that more than 40 percent of the country's population is infected with the human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS. The country is the last remaining absolute monarchy in Africa.

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