Protest over call to ban virginity testing

2018-11-08 15:36
Izintombi (young women) march from Dales Park to the KZN Legislature Building on Langalibalele Street on Wednesday in protest against the call to ban virginity testing.

Izintombi (young women) march from Dales Park to the KZN Legislature Building on Langalibalele Street on Wednesday in protest against the call to ban virginity testing. (Ian Carbutt)

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Scores of izintombi (young women) took to the streets of Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday morning to protest against the United Nations’ call to ban virginity testing, labelling it as a “violation of human rights”.

In a global call to eliminate violence against women and girls everywhere, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR), UN Women and the World Health Organisation (WHO), said that “this medically unnecessary, and often times painful, humiliating and traumatic practice must end”.

“The practice is a long-standing tradition documented in at least 20 countries, spanning all regions of the world. Women and girls are often forced to undergo virginity testing for various reasons, including requests from parents or potential partners to establish marriage eligibility or even from potential employers,” read a statement on the UN’s website.

On Wednesday, izintombi from all around the province marched from Dales Park to the KZN Legislature on Langalibalele Street to deliver a five-page memorandum voicing their grievances.

Culture activist Nomagugu Ngobese, from Nomkhubulwane Culture and Youth Development Organisation, said the march was a response to the UN, WHO and the Gender Commission as they were “interfering with our culture of bringing up our girl children”.

“We are not conforming to the colonisers again. When they look at us they look at us as objects and think they can turn us in any direction and we will conform.

“This is our home. We are indigenous people of this land and we don’t want any interference from outsiders. So hands off,” said Ngobese.

One of the izintombi, Mandisa Khoza (16), told The Witness that the “authorities” should allow them to make their own choices.

“No one is ever forced into virginity testing, it’s voluntary. Virginity testing hurts no one, in fact, it helps young girls practise abstinence,” she said.

Sinenhlanhla Gwenyane (16) said her greatest concern was that if the UN banned virginity testing, young girls would have nothing to encourage them to abstain and teenage pregnancy numbers would increase.

Mlungisi Dongwe, provincial secretary of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, said they, too, were against the call to ban virginity testing.

“These organisations think they know better about our culture as black people. We call on all Africanists to rise and stand against this. They first used Christianity to oppress black people, now they want to use politics,” said Dongwe.

The memorandum, addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa, was handed over to Siyabonga Nqayi from the Premier’s Office who promised to hand it over to Premier Willies Mchunu, who will pass it on to Ramaphosa.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  virginity testing

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