Uthukela, South Africa — A mayor in South Africa is being both praised and criticized for awarding scholarships to 16 young women who have remained virgins. Dudu Mazibuko (a woman), the mayor of the Uthukela district in the south-eastern part of South Africa, says she only gives financial aid to young women who agree to undergo regular “virginity tests.”
However, some loca groups are insulted by what she is doing, and say that this is a form of sexual violation because of the procedure involved to confirm the girls really are virgins. Reportedly, they check to see if the girls’ vaginal hymen is intact, but doctors say that the hymen can be broken due to reasons unrelated to sex.
Palesa Mpapa of People Opposing Women Abuse, a Johannesburg-based women’s rights organization, says, “This is a patriarchal mechanism of controlling women’s sexuality for marriage and it does not link to educational success. It also is a discriminatory practice against girls as boys are never publicly tested for virginity, yet they are parties to the cause for loss of virginity. This practice stigmatizes girls who could have lost virginity through rape or incest.”
Its also been pointed out that a girl that has been raped, which is very common in South Africa, would be penalized and would not qualify for a scholarship because her virginity has been taken without her consent.
Despite this, Mazibuko continues to defend the scholarship’s purpose which is to help protect young women from sexual exploitation, teen pregnancy, and STDs.