17:22 GMT30 October 2020
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    A mayor in a south-eastern district of South Africa recently announced an initiative to grant scholarships to sixteen girls who preserve, and submit to a test to prove, their virginity. The measure is believed to be linked to high tuition costs in the country’s universities.

    Uthukela mayor Dudu Mazibuko decided that the best way to fight a high local rape rate, widespread HIV and high numbers of adolescent pregnancies would be to test girls for virginity and, if they were shown to be pure in his moral view, to award scholarships.

    The mayor's initiative has prompted human rights organizations to raise awareness of "scientifically baseless" virginity testing.

    The mayor's office hasn't responded to allegations that the measure is a violation of a women's rights to privacy, a concept codified in South Africa's constitution.

    The recent announcement has many opponents pointing out that the measure stifles education, and is not fair to rape victims. According to statistics as of 2009, every fourth man in South Africa has confessed to committing rape. Some 50% of those who did admit to rape said that they had committed the crime more than once.

    The International Rehabilitation Centre for Torture observes that virginity testing is a violation of women's rights and could be considered "torture under international law."

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    Tags:
    sexual violence, rape, virginity tests, South Africa
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