South African mayor offers virgin scholarships

Thursday, 11 February 2016 - 14:12


A scheme which offers female students scholarships to girls in rural South Africa if they can prove they are virgins has been condemned by human rights groups.

18-year-old Thubelihle Dlodlo who has won a prized scholarship, is nervous about leaving home in Emcitsheni village in rural KwaZulu-Natal.

The  but there is a catch: one only qualifies for the funding if she keeps her virginity while girls have to undergo regular virginity tests to continue receiving funding.

"Remaining a virgin is my only chance to get an education because my parents can't afford to take me to school. Virginity testing is part of my culture, it is not an invasion of my privacy and I feel proud after I'm confirmed to be pure." she says.

The age of consent in South Africa is 16 years, though there is an exception which makes it legal for those older than 12 and younger than 16 to have sex with each other.

But activists argue these tests are intrusive and that it is not fair to link opportunity to education and sex in this way.

"What is really worrying is that they are only focusing on the girl child and this is discriminatory and will not address problems with teenage pregnancy and HIV infection rates," says Palesa Mpapa from campaign group People Opposing Women Abuse.

18-year-old Thubelihle Dlodlo