Angry maidens took to the streets of Ladysmith, KZN, South Africa on Friday, February 5, 2016, in support of the controversial virginity bursary. They have vowed to continue supporting the Uthukela mayor, Dudu Mazibukomayor who introduced the bursary scheme.
“If the government can give young, unemployed mothers child support grants, why shouldn’t the mayor help virgins for preserving their culture?” they asked.
Many groups have criticised the mayor. Higher education and social development departments have called on the mayor to cancel the bursary scheme for maidens. The Gender for Equality Commission said the awards encourage inequalities and must be stopped immediately.
People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa) has slammed an alleged bursary programme that funds studies for young women, but only if they can prove they’re virgins.
The Maidens Bursary was created by the KwaZulu-Natal municipality to fund higher education for young women. It’s been reported that 16 young South African women are the beneficiaries of the scholarship, which funds their higher education. It’s believed the girls are regularly examined, allegedly to ascertain if they’re still virgins.
Powa’s Palesa Mpapa said, “The fact that we are align it to the right to education is not making sense. It’s also discriminating in that within the girls being lured into bursaries on the basis of virginity and what are we saying about boys.”
Mpapa added that the practice of virginity testing is unconstitutional.
“If anyone wants to keep their virginity, it’s their right to do it in their individual capacity. It’s a personal issue, which is not supposed to be done in public and it’s also not good that the agencies are using it in order for the girls to get bursaries.”
The UThukela District Municipality says it created the so called “virgin bursaries” to deter young women from getting involved with older men. Mayor Dudu Mazibuko says the program is meant to encourage young girls to abstain from sex and focus of education.
“There was a study by the health department that “found that” young girls are more vulnerable than boys. There is no pressure at all, in fact this is an incentive because we are talking girls that have taken the decision to keep their virginity. Young girls are more vulnerable, they are the ones that fall in love with sugar daddies, get diseases and fall pregnant and then their lives are messed up.”
Dudu Zwane, 50 a virginity tester and leader of Izimbali zoThukela where virgins are registered, said the maidens and parents are calling on groups to leave the mayor alone.
She said they were disturbed that government was criticising the awards while it was spending billions on child support grants. She said they expected government to support the awards because it was part of the campaign to fight HIV/Aids.
“We encourage abstinence but there are people telling our kids they have rights to sleep with men,” said Dudu.
The mayor said she was not part of the march and told the SunTeam to speak to the maidens’ matrons.
A 32-year-old virgin and recipient of the award, Bongiwe Sithole said she came from the Free State University to march. She said if it wasn’t for the awards, she would still be at home because her dad didn’t have money to send her to university.
Source: Daily Sun SA.
Additional report: EWN