By: Krystle Crossman
The UThukela District Municipality believes that they have found a way to keep young women on track with their studies in college. They offer bursaries (scholarships) to many young women but there are special bursaries for one particular group. The young women who are still v!rgins when they arrive at college have the bursary given to them with the stipulation that if they lose their v!rginity during their studies, it is taken away. The young women must undergo testing after every school holiday to ensure that they did not have s*x.
The idea for this initiative came from the district’s mayor, Dudu Mazibuko. King Goodwill Zwelithini has been pleading with young girls in KwaZulu-Natal to remain v!rgins and not put themselves at risk for diseases such as HIV and AIDS. The bursary initiative is meant to keep them pure for as long as possible. They want the students to be concentrating on their education which is hard to do when you are fighting for your health because of an STD. While there have not been a large number of bursaries given out for this special group of young women thus far, the district hopes that the numbers will increase as time goes on.
Young women these days are growing up much faster than they should and are engaging in adult activities too soon. These can lead to grave consequences such as unwanted pregnancies and diseases. Many girls are often left to fend for themselves should they become pregnant as most of the fathers want nothing to do with them or the baby. Many babies are born already infected with HIV because their mother caught the disease while being s*xually active and not having enough protection. These ultimately lead to school dropouts.
A spokesperson for the municipality, Jabulani Mkhonza, states that the testing that these young women undergo to ensure that they are still v!rgins could be considered abuse where the law is concerned. He also states that culturally, it is viewed as a good thing so the lines are blurred. They are even thinking about extending this initiative to young women in grades 10 through 12.