A KZN mayor insists ‘virginity bursary’ is an incentive programme
It’s been reported that 16 young South African women are the beneficiaries of the scholarship.
JOHANNESBURG - People Opposing Women Abuse(Powa) has slammed an alleged bursary programme that funds studies for young women, but only if they can prove they're virgins.
The Maidens Bursary was created by the KwaZulu-Natal municipality to fund higher education for young women.
It's been reported that 16 young South African women are the beneficiaries of the scholarship, which funds their higher education.
It's believed the girls are regularly examined, allegedly to ascertain if they're still virgins.
Powa's Palesa Mpapa said, "The fact that we are align it to the right to education is not making sense. It's also discriminating in that within the girls being lured into bursaries on the basis of virginity and what are we saying about boys.'
Mpapa added that the practice of virginity testing is unconstitutional.
"If anyone wants to keep their virginity, it's their right to do it in their individual capacity. It's a personal issue, which is not supposed to be done in public and it's also not good that the agencies are using it in order for the girls to get bursaries."
The Women's Ministry have been unavailable for comment.
The UThukela District Municipality says it created the so called "virgin bursaries" to deter young women from getting involved with older men.
Mayor Dudu Mazibuko says the program is meant to encourage young girls to abstain from sex and focus of education.
"There was a study by the health department that [found that] young girls are more vulnerable than boys. There is no pressure at all, in fact this is an incentive because we are talking girls that have taken the decision to keep their virginity."
Mazibuko said, "Young girls are more vulnerable, they are the ones that fall in love with sugar daddies, get diseases and fall pregnant and then their lives are messed up."
But Professor Ann Skelton from the Centre for Child Law says the program is discriminatory
"Obviously, discrimination is like for example saying we would give this bursary to women is a form of discrimination but it's a positive discrimination. However, when you start cutting other people out of the mix because of this kind of requirement then you are in the territory of unfair discrimination."