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South Africa: Virginity bursary ignites debate on women’s rights

Uthukela District in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa has introduced “The Maidens Bursary,” offered to young girls seeking tertiary education on condition they remain virgins. To keep their scholarships, the girls will undergo a check-up every holiday, a condition which has ignited debate on women’s rights, religious and cultural freedom.



“The Maidens Bursary,” a scholarship offered by Uthukela District in South Africa, which is awarded to young girls seeking tertiary education on the condition they remain virgins has ignited debate on girls rights and religious and cultural freedom.

To keep their bursaries, the girls will “undergo a check-up every holiday. If they lose their virginity, then the bursary gets taken away,” Municipality spokesperson Jabulani Mkhonza reportedly said

16 young women have since been rewarded with scholarships for keeping their virginity. The initiative is also meant to encourage other girls to remain pure and focused. Municipal Mayor Dudu Mazibuko said the programme is meant to encourage girls to remain committed on their education, adding that, “As a municipality, it is important that we give incentives to those young girls who have kept their virginity and also to encourage them to study further”.

The funding initiative has been criticised as a backwards step for girls rights and women’s movement. However, others have argued that the scholarships are important as they promote both abstinence, which protects the girls from HIV/Aids and encourage the girls to study.


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Source: new24