Apparently, the bursary scheme benefiting girls who are virgins is continuing, despite the adverse ruling by the Commission for Gender Equality which ruled it was discriminatory.
Young women need to prove their virginity at the annual Umkhosi Womhlanga, also known as the reed dance in KwaZulu-Natal.
Nomagugu Ngobese who is the cultural activist and advocate for virginity testing, says she is pressing ahead to canvass companies and business people to pour money into the scheme.
The maidens’ bursary was only awarded to female students who could prove they were virgins by attending the reed dance held annually at Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s Enyokeni palace at Nongoma.
The bursary was the brainchild of former uThukela mayor Dudu Mazibuko who launched the scheme in 2015. Mazibuko said at the time the bursary was aimed at encouraging girls and young women to stay pure and prioritise education.
Ngobese said she was worried about the future of the young women who were awarded the bursary during the 2015 academic term.
“Because people who know nothing about our culture and our ways interfered, the future of our young girls is now at stake.
“We do not know whether the municipality will continue funding them because the commission said awarding virgin bursaries was discriminatory,” Ngobese said.
“Our region is severely affected by HIV infections and young women carry the brunt of the virus. According to research, delayed sex is one of the measures effective to stop HIV infections and Umkhosi Womhlanga plays a huge role in encouraging young girls to remain pure.
“By this bursary we want to encourage them to dream big and pursue education and delay sex as much as possible,” Mazibuko said.
Recall that, 16 female students were last year awarded the funding to study in any field of their choice across South African universities.
The students must remain virgins until they graduate as they are tested yearly.
Following the uproar and widespread condemnation of the bursary scheme by politicians and gender activists, the local municipality was forced to reconsider its decision.
The Commission for Gender Equality subsequently launched an investigation and ruled that the scheme was discriminatory and recommended its closure because it unfairly distributed public funds.
However, Ngobese maintains this was an assault on culture and an “open declaration of war”.
“All I can tell you is that this bursary will continue. Some business people and companies, including cultural organisations, have come forward offering monetary support to enable us to continue running the bursary.”
Ngobese said she had already received money but refused to identify the funders or disclose how much, or how many girls would benefit this time around.
“These so called gender rights organisations are not saying anything about “blessers” killing our girls and the escalating levels of teenage pregnancy. All they want is to do away with our practices,” she added.