Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Complaints raised over virginity bursaries

UThukela Municipality Mayor Dudu Mazibuko says the practice of virginity testing has existed in the Zulu culture for decades, and therefore its Maidens Bursary programme is acceptable. Mazibuko has defended the controversial bursary which provides funding for young women on the condition that they undergo regular virginity testing. It’s been reported that 16 young South African women are currently beneficiaries of the programme.

“This is part of our contribution in fighting HIV and AIDS and also in encouraging education,” continued Mazibuko. “When they get into high school that is when they start to be sexually active and they end up with HIV and AIDS and unwanted pregnancies.” South Africa has the largest population living with HIV/AIDS, some 6.8 million people, or 19 percent of adults, according to the United Nations (UN) Programme on HIV/AIDS.

 Since the story broke out there has been an uproar of disapproval from various sectors and concerns of rights violations and discrimination against non virgins have been raised. People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa) has slammed the bursary programme.

Powa’s Palesa Mpapa said, “The fact that we align it to the right to education is not making sense. It’s also discriminating… the girls being lured into bursaries on the basis of virginity and what are we saying about boys?” South Africa's Department of Women said that it was going to “engage with” the municipality to ensure girls and boys have equal access to education.
“Obviously boys are not subjected to inhuman treatments like virginity testing in order for them to be given a particular bursary,” its spokeswoman, Charlotte Lobe, said.
“The best way for protecting girls against unwanted pregnancy, against HIV and AIDS is to give them education.”

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