The IFP Women’s Brigade commends and offers its full support to hundreds of maidens who marched to the Office of the Premier in Pietermaritzburg in a bid to challenge the United Nation’s Human Rights call to end virginity testing. We will continue advocating the need for virginity testing because it does provide more benefits to our communities. It is erroneous for these organisations to always view our culture from a negative perspective because there are many benefits of culture to every society. Virginity testing has strong cultural identity and is associated with self-respect, modesty and pride.
Furthermore, testing has not killed or humiliated any women as we have seen with other rituals. When young girls undergo virginity testing, it promotes sexual abstinence, keep them safe from sexual diseases such as HIV/AIDS, sexual transmitted diseases, unwanted teenage pregnancies and it serves as fight against the waging war of “sugar daddies” and “blessers” culture. It is not acceptable that nowadays more children are giving birth to other children while still dependent on parents. There has been an increase of number of young girls getting infected by HIV/AIDS, STIs and therefore communities are reviving this cultural tradition as a way to educate and safeguard against these issues.
Similarly, in our communities there is shockingly high incidences of child sexual abuse and incest, virginity testing assist in identifying the victims of this scourge whom cannot fight for themselves. The testers are older, experienced women from the respective communities who work closely with social workers, nurses and police. They are doing a good job in exposing child rape cases and incest.
Virginity testers also run regular workshops on bullying, life skills, human trafficking and health and safety to empower the maidens. As women, we share sentiment that strongly refuses to adhere to the standard of white femininity and white mode of what is “culturally appropriate” for black people, especially for indigenous women. We strongly believe that prevention is better than cure.
It is then deeply concerning that these global organisations are the ones deliberately imposing a ban on this practice. If our maidens had problems against the ritual, they would have taken it to the streets to protests against it. The claims that this practice is a violation of the victim’s human rights and is associated with consequences that are detrimental to physical and psychological well-being are unfounded and based on unreasoned judgment. We do not need these organisations to be dictating us as Africans on what to do and what not to do. Africa does not interfere with how they bring up their own children, therefore they have no right to interfere with our culture. The least they could do is to provide proof of any females who had undergone virginity testing and had been abused during the process or else they must keep away from our issues.
As the IFPWB we fully support His Majesty, the Zulu King for promoting and reviving traditions such as Umkhosi Womhlanga (Reed Dance). We further call on the KZN Provincial Government in particular the KZN Department of Arts and Culture to be in solidarity with the maidens on this matter. This Department must not succumb to pressure from outsiders. Even President Ramaphosa must stand up and be in solidarity with the maidens and publicly denounce what these so called “Human Rights Organisations” are calling for.
Mrs Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa, MPL
IFP Women’s Brigade National Chairperson