South African Pharmacy Student Receives Scholarship for Staying a Virgin

For one pharmacy student in South Africa, virginity is the key to affording tuition.

For one pharmacy student in South Africa, virginity is the key to affording tuition.

The Maiden’s Bursary Award, which was given to 4 women in 2015 and 16 women this year, is organized by Dudu Mazibuko, mayor of a district municipality in KwaZulu Natal province, according to Reuters.

The “maidens” who receive the award must be virgins and are required to undergo regular virginity testing. The women must lie on a grass mat and submit to an inspection by elderly women to determine whether their hymen is intact. If the elderly women discover that a student is no longer a virgin, she loses her scholarship.

A 22-year-old pharmacy student who received one of the maiden awards told local media that her family could not afford to pay her college tuition.

“I am proud to be a virgin,” she told News24. “I did not know it could open so many doors for me.”

The pharmacy student said she did not mind the virginity testing and that the scholarship motivated her to do well and give back to her family.

Mazibuko argues that the scholarships are beneficial because the women reduce their chances of teen pregnancy or contraction of diseases like HIV. In addition, the mayor maintained that the scholarships will open up more job opportunities for the students.

However, critics argue that the scholarships violate women’s rights. Attorneys for an organization called Human Rights told Global Post that the scholarships were “inappropriate and discriminatory.”

Human Rights attorney Sanja Bornman stated that sexual violence was not uncommon in South Africa, so “sex is not always a choice,” she told Global Post.