A KwaZulu-Natal municipality has been urged to scrap the Maidens Bursary Award, which requires women to undergo regular virginity testing.
The bursary was awarded to 16 young women during the UThungulu District Municipality’s Mayoral Matric Excellence Awards earlier this month. It was awarded on the condition that the women underwent virginity testing during every holiday break. If the test found that the women were no longer virgins, then the municipality would revoke the bursary.
The NPO, Amandla.mobi, says that it wants the name of the bursary changed and the equipment used to for the virginity tests scrapped.
“If the award is meant to empower women, it should be given away to women in a manner that recognises and protects their dignity,” Amandla.mobi’s chief executive Koketso Moeti said in a News24 report.
Moeti said that being a virgin should not determine whether a woman received a bursary.
“The practice is also invasive, traumatising, and sexist,” she added.
“Apart from that, given the high levels of sexual violence in the country, the whole process could lead to further stigma and trauma for women who are rape survivors and recipients who potentially could be.”
The South African Human Rights Commission said that it has received a number of complaints over the bursary and that it was investigating the matter.