The headline is the 21st century South African way of saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it”. Report has it that the 16 lassies who were honored with the Maiden Bursary Award by the Uthukele District Municipality for being virgins, were charged to remain pure else their bursaries will be taken away from them.
That wasn’t an empty threat. The awardees will have to go through virginity testing after every holiday in order to ascertain that they are not sexually active.
While BuzzSouthAfrica gathered that the municipality introduced the newcategory during its Mayoral Matric Excellence Awards so as to encourage young girls to remain virgins and stop them from being sexually distracted from being educated, the spokesperson of the Municipality Jabulani Mkhonza revealed that about 113 pupils, including non-virgins who excelled in the 2015 matric year received bursaries.
“Sixteen of these bursaries went to the girls for still being virgins. However, in order to keep their bursaries, these maidens will have to undergo a check-up every holiday. If they lose their virginity, then the bursary gets taken away…These days young people are the ones who are in the long SASSA queues for the state grant. They must keep pure and protect themselves from diseases like Aids. Those who are not virgins get bursaries, but this is a special category,” Mkhonza said.
Speaking about the virgins tasked to remain virgins if they must retain their bursaries, Velaphi Mkhize an expert in cultural activities stated that the bursaries out-mapped for only virgins is a better way to replicate the good intents of the Reed Dance. King Goodwill Zwelithini is encouraging girls to remain virgins with the Reed Dance event, “but we are living in the 21st century now and this is a way of rewarding and celebrating purity.”
Although Mkhize admitted that the “virginity testing could be viewed by the law as abuse,” it is a culturally a good thing, stated the expert who explained that the legislation of a country at times, contradict with the cultural practices.
While a professional counselor identified as Yolande Bird opined that the continuous virginity testing of the young girls can cause them “undue stress”, Busisiwe Lunga who had been conducting virginity testing for 11 years applauded the virgins scholarship scheme. To Lunga, the scheme will give the young girls something to look forward to.
She argued that it is important for young girls to remain virgins so that they wouldn’t be infected with HIV/AIDS. Her words – “most of the young women contract Aids, their children get the disease and on top of that, the men leave them and they forget that they still have a long road ahead of them.”
Insisting that continuous virginity testing can turn out to be a traumatic experience for the young girls, Bird asked the unanswered question – “What if you are raped during your first year? It is not fair because someone would have forced themselves on you. What happens then?” she asked.