No more bursaries for ‘good girls’

Uthukela municipality will no longer be offering university bursaries to virgins.
It has accepted the recommendations of the Commission for Gender Equality, which investigated the awarding of “maiden bursaries” to 16 girls by the municipality.

The commission’s CEO, Keketso Maema, told parliament yesterday that the investigation found that “the issuance of a bursary contingent on female students’ virginity is fundamentally discriminatory”.

The commission recommended that the category “maiden bursaries” be scrapped by the municipality – but the 16 girls will not lose their bursaries.

The mayor of uThukela, Siphiwe Mazibuko, said the town council had not known that the awarding of bursaries on the basis of virginity was contrary to the constitution.

But several MPs on the committee defended the practice of virginity testing, saying cultural values should be respected and preserved, as should the constitution.

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said there should be a “healthy balance between Western doctrine and cultural practice”.

He said virginity testing was a tool in preventing “blessers” from taking advantage of girls.

ANC delegate from the National Council of Provinces James Mthethwa said virginity testing was practised “by our forefathers” and “culture must be respected”.

Godfrey Thobejane, also an ANC National Council of Provinces delegate, argued that the law should be rewritten to take cultural practices into account.

He said “the municipality has done nothing wrong” and was “promoting a good value system”.

Maema said that the Commission for Gender Equality investigation had not been into virginity testing but into the use of public funds for a bursary that discriminated on the basis of virginity.

Source : Times Live



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