Imagine you are a South African girl, born in one of the provinces within which poverty stricken is one of the first adjectives that comes to mind when trying to describe the province.
You sort of beat the odds and you manage to go school even though you would sometimes go in unadorned foot, stomach touching your back. Sometimes you would miss school because you have to help your granny at the maize fields, sometimes you miss school because, well granny has to go to town to collect social grant, being the oldest you have to look after your younger siblings and cousins.
Regardless every hardship, at nineteen you manage to complete your senior certificate, grade twelve and thus graduate from high school.
Now its December holidays people are exuberant but you, you are at home chewing away your finger nails thinking ‘high school is done, where to from here’. Just as you about to resign yourself to a life similar to that of your late mother (Go to the big city, clean peoples home for a living, meet a married man who promised to give you heaven and earth, heaven he sends you by infecting you with the HIV/AIDS virus) one of your classmates drops by telling you about a bursary your district municipality is offering.
You waste no time, gather all the supporting documents requires when one submits similar applications, you make your way to the nearest internet café , which is about three hundred kilometres a return trip by foot.
Just when you about to click the submit button with One rand left of the twenty five rands you loaded to access the internet, you notice a fine print
‘In order to qualify for this bursary over and above academic excellence you have to be a virgin, in possession of the most recent certificate of virginity testing’
Meaning in your entire nineteen years going on twenty no man should have touched you; the only accepted figure to have touched you would be the granny who goes by the title of
Not only should you have wide opened your legs while the aforementioned checks if your hymen is still intact this will have to happen in front of anyone who happens to be interested in watching and you also need proof in a form of a certificate which reads
‘Still pure – Virgin’
Having obtained the above and offered the bursary one of the conditions is that within the four year period of study, you will have to endure periodic virginity testing twice a year.
Which means, while your peers will be looking forward to a much needed break, YOU will have to prepare yourself to ‘open wide’ once again your fate in the hands of the granny as she checks that hymen.
You are probably thinking this is an extract from an eighteen century book,
I hate to be the one bursting your bubble, but no I am afraid this is happening now in 2016, in South Africa, in one of the poverty stricken provinces with highest number of people living with the HIV/AIDS virus.
Well a certain clever Mayor decided to come up with a silver bullet, that will combat poverty, decrease number of people infected with the HIV/AID virus and increase number of women with University degrees, Brilliant!
Brilliant it would have be if only it was not so inequitable.
One of the arguments given by one Mayor of uThukela Municipality Dudu Mazibuko (the champion of this brilliant idea in history of ever #Maidenbursary) is that this programme will encourage young girls to abstain from sex and focus on education.
**These are not young girls, the least we can refer to them maybe is young women, and they are adult’s ages ranging from nineteen to twenty three, meaning they are at liberty to decide for themselves if they want to be sexually active or not and that decision should not be associated with accessing institutions of higher learning.
** If this is not the most discriminating bursary scheme ever, then it has to be the gruesome way I have ever heard where, women are used(the virginity testers) to police other women’s bodies( the bursary applicants).
** Discrimination is discrimination even if it’s a positive discrimination as long as it excludes some and includes others it’s still unfair discrimination
Let’s say, hypothetically, when you were six your uncle used sexually abuse you (let’s face it I happens more that we would like to admit) your aunt turned a blind eye in fear of losing the financial support your uncle was providing, what then?
Well according to this #Maidenbursary = SORRY BUT WE ARE NOT SORRY NO OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU.
This also means a boy child who is coming from a similar disadvantaged background, academically deserving or not is disqualified because, how do you test if a guy is a virgin or not? Never mind the fact that even the method used to test girls is flawed in that it’s not scientific in its nature.
But this Mayor is hell bent in her brilliant idea; she would even go as far as referencing ‘culture’ to defend this,
So what if I was born in uThukela and I am not Zulu therefore don’t believe in the whole virginity testing culture what then?
Well maybe one day we will have answers, for now this is their story and they are sticking to it, they are UTHUKELA MUNICIPALITY AND THEY OFFER #MAIDENBURSARY TO WOMEN WHO CAN PROVE THAT THEY ARE STILL VIRGINS.