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Outrage as South Africa offers study grants for virgin girls

23 January 2016, 11:11

Johannesburg - A South African region on Friday said it had launched a new grant scheme for girls who remain virgins throughout the course of their university studies, triggering outrage among rights groups.

The bursary offered in Uthukela,in the southeast of the country near Durban city, is the brainchild of municipality's female mayor Dudu Mazibujo.

News of the grant scheme sent shockwaves among civil society groups, with one women's association branding it unconstitutional.

"The bursaries are for young girls who are still virgins," municipality spokesman Jabulani Mkhonza told AFP.

"It's a new category which the mayor has introduced this year," he said, adding that the goal is to encourage "young girls to keep themselves pure and inactive from sexual activity and focus on their studies."

Beneficiaries of the grant will be subjected to regular virginity tests, he added.

"Those children who have been awarded bursaries will be checked whenever they come back for holidays. The bursary will be taken away if they lose their virginity," said Mkhonza.

The People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) group, said it was shocked that taxpayers' money was being used to violate girls' rights.

"POWA is shocked to hear that young girls are being tested for virginity in order to get bursaries... it's a violation of their rights," the group's executive director Nonhlanhla Mokwena told AFP.

"That is taxpayers' money that is being used to violate girls... (and) the constitution of this country."

Many South Africans from poor backgrounds rely on government grants to get through university.

Planned university fee hikes last year provoked sometimes violent protests nationwide.

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