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‘Virginity tests for bursaries are unconstitutional’

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The uThukela District Municipality’s Maidens Bursary Award is unlawful, unfair, unreasonable and unconstitutional, and should be discontinued, the Commission for Gender Equality has said.

And the recipients should keep their bursaries, without having to be subjected to more tests, the commission added.

The commission on Friday released its report on the bursary, which was given to 16 young women from the uThukela District Municipality on condition that they remained “pure”.

CGE CEO Keketso Maema told media that the commission had found the issuing of study bursaries only to virgin female students to be discriminatory.

“It violates their constitutional right to equality, dignity and privacy. Culture and cultural practise should not be used as a factor to exclude those who do not subscribe…  from benefiting or receiving from services provided by government,” she said.

The commission found that the bursary scheme failed to take into account circumstances beyond the control of the recipients, such as rape, that may lead to loss of virginity.

The recipients had to undergo virginity testing every holiday to ensure they were not sexually active.

The municipality introduced the new category of bursaries during its Mayoral Matric Excellence Awards on January 11 this year.

The virginity scheme amounted to a gender discriminatory practice against the girls, the commission found, as it created an additional burden on them to “remain virgins”, without imposing the same burden of responsibility on boys through a similar scheme.

The commission also found that the district municipality had failed in its constitutional obligations.

The commission has recommended that the scheme be discontinued.

“The students awarded should retain their bursary without further virginity testing,” she said.

The report had been handed over to the municipality, the commission said.

[Source: News24]
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