Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy secretary-general has reacted to the condition spelt out by Uthukele, Kwazulu-Natal municipality for its bursary award.
The party’s deputy secretary condemned the yardstick employed by the province. She argued that girls should not be compelled to remain virgins when she insisted that “to become a virgin must be a choice”.
Hlengiwe noted that Mazibuko’s bursary award programme has showed that “the ANC has fully turned its back” on the Freedom Charter. To her, the municipality has derailed from the girl-child’s merit and legibility for education and has taken the path of her virginity.
See Also: Mazibuko Defends Virgins Awards
She described the condition as “anti-women‚ reactionary‚ patriarchal and a violation of women rights”. She maintained that ANC’s Mayor Dudu Mazibuko’s “funding for 16 women on the basis that they are virgins and that they must remain virgins throughout their student life” doesn’t hold water. She said that the “funding to the 16 girls must be based on merit”.
It would be recalled that Mayor Dudu Mazibuko earlier this week defended reasons why the municipality insisted on awarding bursaries to 16 students who are virgins. Mazibuko said that the programme was initiated in order to “reduce HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancy” among students in the municipality.
Being a virgin is how to get it, remaining a virgin is how to keep it. The girls would be subjected to regular virginity tests in order to ascertain proofs that their hymen membrane is still intact. As for who and where the girls would be tested, Mazibuko opined that the municipality and the concerned universities won’t interfere.
“The ANC mayor demands that these students produce virginity test certificates in order to qualify. In addition‚ her scheme prescribes that each year the women must to go for testing and prove that they are still virgins in order to access funding.”
“To become a virgin and participate in virginity testing must be a choice of women and those who choose to be sexually active must not be condemned and denied funding‚” Hlengiwe said.
She argued that; “The choice of being sexually active or not must be made by women. But, in a country like South Africa where educational funding has become difficult and rare, putting up such parameter shouldn’t have come up,
“All of us must as and when we engage in sexual activities do so responsibly‚ but access to education funding‚ which is already scars‚ must never be based on our sexual decisions,” she said.
Hlengiwe opined that with the bursary in place, the initiators have violated the Freedom Charter which states that “higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit”.
Numerous reactions have trailed Mazibuko’s decision to award bursaries to students who are virgins only. A policy development and advocacy consultant Sisonke Msimang described the scheme as an embodiment of “level upon level of patriarchal nonsense, unconstitutional misogyny and mixed-up madness”. She further told Al jazeera that “Being sexually active and seeking an education has nothing to do with each other”.
Virginity testing for children under the age of 16 was outlawed by the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. However, with this development on ground, comments and questions are being hauled by diverse quarters worldwide. One of such questions is “does it mean that students no longer have rights over their body?”.