Uthukela district of eastern KwaZulu-Natal province appeared in global top headline news when it started offering a “Virginity Bursary Scheme” to young women who were virgins and are committed to remaining virgins. As agreed, the lassies who were awarded the bursaries will be checked whenever they’re on break to ascertain if they’re still virgins and the bursaries of those who lose their virginity will be taken away.
The Virginity Bursary Scheme was then criticized for so many reasons. Among them was an allegation that the scholarship program is sexist. As observed, it only made provisions for females and didn’t recognize the males.
Dudu Mazibuko, mayor of the Uthukela district was addressing the lashings the Virginity Bursary Scheme received when she dismissed the sexist criticism and disclosed that there are plans to launch similar scheme for boys, IOL reports.
According to Mazibuko, females are more vulnerable and that was why the scheme kick-started with them. “We have started with the girls because they are more vulnerable…our long-term plan is ensuring that we reward young boys who stay virgins,” she said.
With that, she iterated that the essence of the Virginity Bursary Scheme is “to fight HIV and AIDS. We want to stop teenage pregnancy, this is what we thought will work for us,” she stated and dared those criticizing the scheme to “come up with better solutions.”
Meanwhile, one 18-year-old beneficiary of the Virginity Bursary Scheme told AFP that the bursary is dear to her because it offered her the opportunity to turn around her future for good. “I can conquer the world,” she remarked.
Also, another 32-year-old beneficiary commented thus; “there is no limit for us as maidens…we are going to get the bursary (whether we)… pass with distinction or not. With your body, with your virginity, we get the bursary.”
To Uthukela district’s mayor, finding young girls who are able to abstain is encouraging and the district’s way of encouraging the girls in return is the Virginity Bursary Scheme. Young boys will soon get to receive similar reward but the unanswered question remains – how will the district identify male virgins?