Virginity Testing Gets Underway As Topless Zulu Maidens Gather For Annual Reed Dance

More than 1‚000 Zulu maidens are expected to descend on Egcekeni Primary School in Shongweni‚ west of Durban‚ for the annual maidens’ conference at the weekend. (CLICK HERE to read the eye-opening insider account).

The event is a build-up to the annual Reed Dance ceremony that will take place at Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s eNyokeni Palace in Nongoma later in 2016.

Only virgins take part in the Reed Dance. They have to be tested by elderly women before the pilgrimage to Enyokeni palace. By remaining pure‚ the maidens are safe from unwanted pregnancies‚ HIV/Aids and sexually transmitted diseases.

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Proceedings at this weekend’s event include an educational programme as well as an award ceremony for maidens younger than 30.

King Zwelithini’s wife Queen MaNdlovu and other dignitaries are expected to attend the ceremony.

“The Department uses these build-up programmes to discuss social ills affecting the youth such as HIV/Aids and teenage pregnancy as well as to educate them about the various career opportunities that are available. We take pride in maidens who still practice this tradition as they uphold sacred Zulu customs‚” said Arts and Culture MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi.

But the success of virginity testing is not backed up by facts‚ as KwaZulu-Natal has the highest incidence of HIV/Aids infections in the country.

The conference‚ a partnership between the department and eThekwini Municipality‚ comes shortly after the Commission for Gender Equality released a report which found that the “16 virginity bursaries” awarded by uThukela district mayor Dudu Mazibuko earlier this year were unconstitutional.

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But the commission’s report has put it on a collision course with King Zwelithini and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Commission‚ whose chairwoman Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva‚ supports the virgin bursaries. The gender commission recommended that the bursary be removed as a category for funding and the municipality’s policy be amended.

It also recommended that Mazibuko and councillors undergo gender training on HIV/Aids‚ behavioural issues‚ gender discrimination and gender-based violence.

Credit: TMG Digital/Durban Newsroom

Rose Kelvin

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