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Why it’s ridiculous to award scholarships to young women based on their virginity

Another week, another silly patriarchal idea. Last week, it was announced that a Kwazulu Natal municipality had awarded bursaries to young women who remain virgins. SISONKE MSIMANG lists five reasons why virginity testing should never be a basis for giving scholarships.

1. Like unicorns, virginity tests encourage magical thinking. If you are over the age of 8, magical thinking needs to live on the pages of your favourite books, but it should not be used to make real life decisions. Oh! And virginity tests are also illegal and unscientific.

2. Magical unicorn tests are invariably carried out on women, not men. If you are unclear about why this is a problem please refer to the bill of rights in the Constitution. The whole of it. The bit about privacy. The part of dignity applies too. And, um, the gender equality one is also a good starting point.

3. When someone rapes you, you are no longer a virgin. Losing out on a scholarship because someone raped you seems kind of, um… crazy.

4. If you happen to be a woman who has sex to put food on the table and you choose food over virginity then you don’t qualify for a scholarship because you were feeding your family. That too seems kind of crazy.

5. When you are over 18 having consensual sex is legal and nobody’s business.

Sisonke Msimang bio pic Sisonke Msimang writes about money, power and sex. She was a Yale World Fellow (2012), an Aspen New Voices Fellow (2014), and a Ruth First Fellow (2015).
– Featured image via Wikimedia Commons
2 Comments
  1. Cuey says

    I worry that the issue of “what if she’s raped?” comes up in these discussions. It’s almost legitimizing the very premise of the bursary in the first place. That the question “what if she’s raped?” is even asked in relation to an academic bursary shows how ridiculous this whole thing is in the first place – nothing more.

  2. Michael says

    These ‘tests’ are in no way accurate so your just denying a lot of young women a scholarship who desperately need one.

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