South African mayor giving scholarships to virgins

by Israel Boafo Bansah

A mayor in South Africa has awarded collage scholarships to 16 girls for maintaining their virginity through high school, the mayor’s office said on Sunday.
Mayor Dudu Mazibuko of the town of Uthukela tried something new this year and offered scholarships to young women in the district for remaining virgins. The program is an attempt to stem the rate of teenage pregnancy and give incentive to girls to be “pure and focus on school,” the mayor’s office said.
Almost six percent of teen girls in South Africa became pregnant in 2013. The girls who won the scholarships have to prove that they are maintaining their virginity by agreeing to be regularly tested. “To us, it’s just a way of saying thank you for keeping yourself and you must prove to us that you can still keep yourself for the next three years until you get your degree or certificate,” Mazibuko told a local South African talk radio station.
The mayor’s office awards 100 scholarships each year to the most promising students from the district, but this new category has stirred a lot of controversy. “It infringes on the constitutional right to privacy, said Palesa Mpapa, legal manager for People Opposing Women Abuse, in a statement. “It also is a discriminatory practice against girls as boys are never publicly tested for virginity, yet they are parties to the cause for loss of virginity.
This practice stigmatises girls who could have lost virginity through rape or incest. “Mpapa also decried the program as a “patriarchal mechanism of controlling women’s sexuality for marriage and it does not link to educational success.”

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