Despite calls by the human rights advocates to have the ukuhlolwa (virginity test) scrapped, Maiden insists that ukuhlolwa is an age-old cultural practice that cannot be abolished with just a stroke of the pen.
Human rights advocates said virginity test is an invasion of privacy which is degrading towards women but year after year, young girls from the age of eight have their bodies inspected by older women. A white mark on their foreheads at the end of the ceremony is priceless as it symbolizes that they are still pure.
Though this cultural practice has been viewed by many as unethical, the practice is highly rated by most African countries particularly the Bantus of South Africa.
The process also involves teaching them life skills, how to handle themselves as women. They are encouraged to take pride in their virginity.
Speaking on this, CRL Rights Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said the beautiful thing about the ceremony is that when a maiden is detected to be defiled, it was easy to know who did it so that the family could make a claim for damages and a cleansing ceremony was done.
South Africa is battling with teenage pregnancies with statistics, at one point, showing that 271 schoolgirls were falling pregnant every day and some who believe in the sacredness of the culture said the culture helps to check immoral behavior especially among youths
Lwandle Duma, 22 who spoke with the New Age said there were too many misconceptions around the cultural practice.
“I know some say they put a finger (in the vagina) and check whether we’re still virgins, but that is not true. They basically inspect, they don’t touch anything. People should leave our culture alone. We want to see our own daughters go through ukuhlolwa in future,” Duma said.
Duma’s mother Lindiwe Mngomezulu, also said the findings of Commission for Gender Equality were overly inaccurate and insulting.
“I’m proud of my daughter. I promised her when she was 15 that I would take her for umemulo (coming of age Zulu ceremony). She was looking forward to it. I’m glad she kept herself pure and she has remained grounded,” Mngomezulu said.
Mngomezulu was referring to last week’s findings by the Commission for Gender Equality that the awarding of 16 bursaries by the uThukela district municipality in KwaZulu Natal on condition that recipients remained virgins was unconstitutional and should be discontinued. It also suggested beneficiary maidens were being forced to go through the tests.
The uThukela district municipality bursary scheme consists of 116 bursaries of which 16 are only for maidens. It now has until August 18 to report back on how it has implemented the ban on the contentious bursaries. The council has since said it would take the report on review to court.
Gugu Khama, 22, also explained that it was wrong for the report to refer to the practice as virginity test. “There is more to ukuhlolwa, they teach us culture, we sing, the older girls mentor the young ones. It’s something we grow up looking forward to,” Khama said.