A decision by Uthukela, a district in KwaZulu-Natal, South African, to offer university scholarships to “virgins” has been denounced by feminists and human rights activists as a violation of rights.
The municipality’s decision to curb sexual activities, possibly promiscuity and the spread of HIV and AIDS in the lives of young teenage girls has raised massive complains, especially on social media. A few people see the financial aid as a good move, but many say it is discriminatory.
The scholarship was introduced this year and has been awarded to young women from the Uthukela district in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, mayoral spokesman Jabulani Mkhonza said. Each year the mayor’s office awards scholarships to more than 100 promising high school and university students from the area, he said.
“POWA is shocked to hear that young girls are being tested for virginity in order to get bursaries… it’s a violation of their rights,” said Executive Director of POWA Nonhlanhla Mokwenda.
“That is taxpayers’ money that is being used to violate girls and violate the constitution of South Africa.”
The financial aid called “Virgin Scholarship” was set up by the mayor of Uthukela in KwaZulu -Natal province last week.
“The mayor encourages young girls to stay pure and not to have sex in order to focus on their studies,” Mkhoza Jabulani, a spokesman for the Uthukela municipality said.
“Those children who have been awarded bursaries will be checked whenever they come back from holidays. The bursary will be taken away if they lose their virginity,” he added.
Nonhlanhla Mokwena said the move was discriminating against boys. Virginity testing is not against South Africa’s constitution, but it is essential that it is done with consent. Some activists have called for the banning of virginity testing in South Africa, describing it as sexist and invasive. Those defending the cultural practice say it preserves tradition and has been modernised to teach girls about their reproductive health and HIV and AIDS.
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Author: Gesture Chidhanguro