“Good intentions”

South African mayor awards scholarships to women who “remain virgins”

A pregnant student in South Africa. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)

The female mayor of a South-African town has awarded scholarships to 16 different women who could “prove” they remained virgins, in order to encourage others to be “pure and focus on school.” The scholarships were awarded to young women in the Uthukela district who voluntarily stayed virgins, and will regularly undertake virginity tests to keep the funding. “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,” Uthukela Mayor Dudu Mazibuko told South African talk radio station 702.

She explained that she was targeting young women this way  because they are more vulnerable to exploitation, teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Nevertheless, she has drawn criticism for the scholarship’s focus on virginity and the corresponding virginity tests, which are constitutional in South Africa when consensual, but are seen as sexist and invasive by activists. “I think the intentions of the mayor are great but what we don’t agree with is giving bursaries for virginity,” said Mfanozelwe Shozi, chairman for the Commission for Gender Equality. “There is an issue around discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, virginity and even against boys. This is going too far.”

Read the full story at ABC.

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