Demand South African mayor stops invasive and degrading virginity tests as bursary acceptance criteria

  • by: Michael Taylor
  • target: UThukela District Municipality Mayor Dudu Mazibuko

Scholarships are being rewarded to South African girls in UThukela based on their virginity. These students can only keep their scholarship if they remain virgins, which means regular virginity tests. Virginity testing is done by inserting fingers into the vaginal cavity to feel whether the hymen membrane is intact.  This procedure is inaccurate, invasive, and traumatic. Please sign this petition to demand that this damaging practice stops now.

UTjukela District Mayor Dudu Mazibuko claims that the objective is "to keep girls pure and focused on their education." In South Africa, where woman are meant to have equal rights as men, such an archaic practice is impossible to justify. Yet underprivileged girls are treated unequally by a government that is meant to represent a constitution which deems them entirely equal to their male counterparts. This is taking advantage of economically vulnerable young woman and teaching them that their bodies, their purity and femininity are the determining factors of success - and that sexually invasive experiences are something they must endure. The tests claim to be about maintaining purity, but they are an assault on the girl's most intimate bodily autonomy. 

Please sign this petition to demand that Mayor Dudu Mazibuko respond to public outrage by scrapping virginity testing, and ask him to award scholarships to girls based on their needs and their relevant achievements.

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Other girls and boys have had bursaries given to them, and none of whom had to go through any sort of physical test, never mind virginity testing. Been treated unequally in this fashion can only do damage to such young an impressionable minds. These young girls are forced into these scholarships because they are vulnerable, and often do not have the resources to study on their own. What choice do they have? If they put a stop to the testing they will lose all financial aid. When other girls their age are getting the bursaries without the humiliation of regular virginity tests I can only imagine just how hopeless they must feel every time they step up for their tests.

This must stop, these girls can not stand up for themselves without the risk of losing their funding to an education. We must stand up for them, and demand that these obsolete conditions to their bursaries are retracted and they are allowed to study without the pressure of constant virginity tests.

I remember my college days. I was free to make any choice I wanted. I was not judged by what I did on the weekends, nor did it interfere with my studies. These girls deserve that same freedom. Having something so archaic hanging over their young heads can only be traumatic.
Our college days are long passed, but not forgotten. We can not take the freedoms we had growing up for granted, when these young girls are imprisoned by such antiquated thinking. They are in the prison of a dirty old mind who sees woman as objects, not as people. We must do all we can to free them from these chains. Sign this petition with me and lets free them to focus on their studies, their futures, and not on their virginity. How terrible to have your virginity as a criteria for a future. This is disgusting.

Mayor Dudu Mazibuko, you are not protecting these girls, you are in fact breaking the law, and undermining the constitution. The very constitution that protects the rights to their privacy and equal rights. You are teaching them that their bodies are more important than their minds, and that is unforgivable. The most disapointing thing about this Mayor Dudu, is that you yourself are a woman. One would think you would be above this.

We demand that you reverse your virginity rules as an acceptance criteria and allow these girls to continue their studies free of this burden you have placed on them.

To Mayor Dudu Mazibuko


 


I am not sure how to start this mail ,I would like to ask tell you that even though I think your intentions are good, and that you really have the interest of the young girls at heart, when you insist that their privacy is so deeply invaded. I mean, perhaps we should do virginity testing for want-to-be mayors. I am sure you would pass that yourself, seeing that being a virgin plays such an important part of our modern society. The thing is, I cannot, because it is so despicable that one’s virginity, should be an acceptance criteria for anything, let alone a scholarship. I cannot say that you have their best interests at heart, because surely if you did, you would treat them with more respect. Would you like to go through a virginity test? Don’t think so. So why would you force it on young girls? I am sure it was popular in the dark ages, which is where your virginity scholarships belong.


 


Do you have any idea just how important education is in South Africa without the added burden of remaining “pure”. Not just I normal circumstances, but in the rape capital of the world? These girls need an education, and they would do anything for it. They would even agree to your scholarship that could only come out of the Genghis Khan textbook of wickedness. Do you know Genghis Khan? You should if you studied history – the same history that would have taught you just how ridiculous virginity testing is. In medieval times the signs of chastity are as follows: shame, modesty, fear, a faultless gait and speech, casting eyes down before men and the acts of men. Some women are so clever, however, that they know how to resist detection by these signs, and in this case a man should turn to their urine. The urine of virgins is clear and lucid, sometimes white, sometimes sparkling.... Corrupted women have a muddy urine. http://theweek.com/articles/556431/ridiculous-history-virginity-tests


This is in the same category of your scholarship conditions, outdated and not scientifically sound.


 


Many researchers state that the presence of an intact hymen is not a reliable indicator of whether a female has been vaginally penetrated because the tearing of the hymen may have been the result of some other event.


 


I have left some literature below for you to read up just how antiquated virginity testing is.


 


 


To repeat what I said in my petition, and to add some: How archaic and is inserting fingers into the vaginal cavity to feel whether the hymen membrane is intact. Not only is this method inaccurate, but I can think of no worse invasion of privacy and anything more demeaning. What is worse, this is taking advantage of economically vulnerable young woman and teaching them that their bodies, their purity and femininity are the determining factors of success. 


 


Do you know anything of South Africa’s constitution?  The very constitution that protects the rights of privacy and equal rights, for all? What is more, you are teaching young impressionable young girls that their bodies are more important than their minds, and that is unforgivable.


It was with disbelief that I read what you were doing - awarding scholarships to virgins. And they can only keep this scholarship if they remain virgins, which means regular virginity tests. Such an archaic practice, in South Africa, where woman are meant to have equal rights as men. Yet underprivileged girls are treated unequally by a government that is meant to represent a constitution which deems them entirely equal to their male counterparts.


 


Requiring a female to undergo a virginity test is harmful, especially when it is performed on behalf of a government. The practice is sexist, perpetuating the notion that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is acceptable for men, but not for women, and suggesting that a women's sexual activity should be subject to public knowledge and criticism, while men's should not. I ask again, are you aware of the constitution?


 


 


I have attached thousands of signatures, urging you to reverse your virginity rules as an acceptance criteria and allow these girls to continue their studies free of this burden you have placed on them. We demand that these archaic conditions to their bursaries are retracted and they are allowed to study without the pressure of constant virginity tests.

Update #211 months ago
Success! After you and thousands of Care2 members spoke out, human rights advocates were able to amplify your messages and convince South Africa's Commission on Gender Equity to ban maidens bursaries, outlawing virginity tests for women seeking opportunities in this South African community.
Update #1about a year ago
Thank you to everyone for your support, keep on spreading the word as I have some exciting news. We are joining forces with a local group on the ground in the UThukela District who will be presenting all of your signatures next week to the local government. They have been campaigning themselves and with our combined support we will win this battle for those girls.
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