scholarships to 16 young women for remaining virgins to encourage others to be
“pure and focus on school,” her spokesman said Sunday.
The scholarship was introduced this year and has been awarded to young women
from the Uthukela district in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, mayoral
spokesman Jabulani Mkhonza said. Each year the mayor’s office awards scholarships
to more than 100 promising high school and university students from the area,
The young women who applied for the scholarships voluntarily stayed virgins and
agreed to have regular virginity tests to keep their funding, Uthukela Mayor Dudu
Mazibuko told South African talk radio station 702.
“To us, it’s just to say thank you for keeping yourself and you can still keep
yourself for the next three years until you get your degree or certificate,”
The grants will be renewed “as long as the child can produce a certificate
that she is still a virgin,” she said. The scholarships focus on young women
because they are more vulnerable to exploitation, teenage pregnancy and
sexually transmitted diseases, she said.
South Africa’s department of basic education recorded about 20,000 pregnancies
among girls and young women in schools in 2014, with 223 pregnant girls still
in primary school, according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation. A
household survey conducted by Statistics South Africa found that 5.6 percent of
South African females aged 14 to 19 were pregnant in 2013.
activists have called for the banning of virginity testing in South Africa,
describing it as sexist and invasive. Those defending the cultural practice say
it preserves tradition and has been modernized to teach girls about their
reproductive health and HIV and AIDS.