Despite his calls for abstinence and monogamy to fight HIV, Swazi king marries 11th wife
June 04 2005 12:00 AM ET
Despite calling on citizens of Swaziland to practice abstinence and monogamy to slow the spread of HIV in the AIDS-ravaged nation, King Mswati III has married his 11th wife, BBC News reports. In 2001 the king called on all girls in the country to remain virgins until marriage and to delay getting married for at least five years under a cultural practice known as umcwasho--which means "badge of the virgin." But the king has defied his own rule by marrying a new bride each year and by fathering 24 children. Mswati's father had more than 70 wives by the time he died in 1982. Siphiwe Hlope, director of the Swaziland AIDS agency Positive Living for Life, said it was hoped the king would lead the nation's AIDS fight by setting an example for his subjects. "If he himself stood up and said 'I'm staying faithful to my partners. Everyone should have one wife and stick to his partner,' men here would listen," said Hlope. Swaziland currently has the world's highest HIV prevalence rate: More than 42% of the nation's adults are infected with the virus.