“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.
Our cultures allow men to have sex but clearly believe that a non virgin female is not worthy of a bursary… we need serious reformation
— Ngwana wa Bakwena (@Leboux_M) January 25, 2016
— 🦔 Noko (@Mpedi86) January 25, 2016
Giving a bursary based on Virginity is sexist and humiliating! Takes us backwards! Makes me mad! Staying Virgin is no one else's business
— TroyMartens (@Troy_Martens) January 22, 2016
Sure, go ahead & promote abstinence. But don't put a price tag on it, ESPECIALLY for an education. #maidenbursary
— Sefiso Hlongwane (@Fizicss) January 22, 2016