EFF condemns Maidens Bursary as anti-women

Economic Free Fighters (EFF) has condemned the uThukela Municipality’s Maiden Bursary Programme in KwaZulu-Natal as ‘anti-women’.

EFF deputy secretary-general Hlengiwe Hlophe (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Lucky Nxumalo)

EFF deputy secretary-general Hlengiwe Hlophe (Photo by Gallo Images / City Press / Lucky Nxumalo)

Fees Must Fall could render bursary schemes such at the Maidens Bursary unnecessary, says EFF.

Economic Free Fighters (EFF) has condemned the uThukela Municipality’s Maiden Bursary Programme in KwaZulu-Natal as ‘anti-women’.

The Maidens Bursary Programme has received backlash from several quarters, including DA, for its requirement that woman candidates produce virginity test certificates to qualify. The bursary’s 16 recipients are further required to go for testing and prove they are still virgins to stay on the bursary scheme until their degrees are complete.

“If Fees Must Fall succeeded, there would be no need for opportunistic politicians such as the uThukela mayor Dudu Mazibuko’s bursary scheme,” EFF deputy secretary-general Hlengiwe Hlophe told The Citizen.

She said the cause of Fees Must Fall could cover the funding needs of students of all genders.

In a statement, EFF described the virginity bursary as “anti-women, reactionary, patriarchal and a violation of women’s rights”.

“There is no worse form of gender oppression and violence than what has come from the ANC run municipality through this Maiden Bursary Awards. The scheme promotes the sexual policing of women and created an unrelated link between women virginity and performance at school,” Hlophe said.

The Uthukela municipality is quoted as saying “the scholarship for virgins is a way to encourage girls to keep themselves pure and inactive from sexual activity and focus on their studies”.

But Hlophe countered: “There is no proof whatsoever that because you are a virgin, it means you will perform better in school. The scheme also entrenches gender inequality by promoting different sexual standard for females.”

Hlophe added a further fault with the bursary’s stipulations is the assumption that all women and girls lose their virginity by consent, highlighting the country’s high levels of sexual violence, where “many girl children become sexually violated and disarmed of their virginity by force”.

The scheme creates an impression that all who are not virgins have become so because of their choosing, yet many women are violated by men at early stages of their lives, she argued.

The DA on Tuesday also said it would be writing to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), requesting that an investigation be instituted into the mayor, Mazibuko, for her role in the alleged establishment of the Maiden Bursary Award.

“The draconian program is an affront to the right to privacy and dignity of young women as it mandates virginity testing for any woman who wishes to be a bursary holder under the program, precluding those who are not virgins,” DA said.

Mazibuko has defended the bursary, saying virginity testing has existed in Zulu culture for decades, and therefore its Maidens Bursary Programme is acceptable, Eyewitness News reported.