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'Culture here to stay'

By unknown | Sep 12, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mary Papayya and Mhlaba Memela

Mary Papayya and Mhlaba Memela

Despite breaking the law, those who practise virginity inspections will not be charged.

Police spokesman Muzi Mngomezulu said: "We have not received any complaints. We will only act if children or their parents complain or report a case over this practice."

Communities at KwaNongoma in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend carried out virginity inspections on young Zulu maidens and maintain it is a cultural practice and a weapon to fight HIV and Aids.

At the weekend, King Goodwill Zwelithini hit out at the law-makers in government: "As a nation, we will not be forced out of our culture. There is no one who will tell us what to do or how to practise our culture."

Zwelithini was also supported by church leaders in the province.

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) and the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said virginity testing breaches the Children's Act.

They said itconstitutes an invasion of privacy because the results of the test are disclosed to a third party.

Yvonne Mogadime of the CGE said the claim that virginity testing is "cultural" is still a contested issue.

"The accuracy of the results is unreliable, as the hymen in the vagina can be severed for reasons other than sexual penetration," she said.

She said virginity testing discriminates on the grounds of gender and impairs on the dignity and well-being of the girl child. "It also causes psychological harm as a girl who allegedly fails the test is stigmatised.

"We cannot revive an ancient custom to deal with the HIV-Aids pandemic. In the past, this custom was practised in private and was carried out by a member of the girl's family.

"Today, girls are paraded on the streets like cattle, awarded certificates and a dot made on their foreheads."

SAHRC Children Rights coordinator Joy Mehlomakulu said the purpose of the act was to protect children and "not to discard culture".

"As a society, we need to balance laws and the cultural practices."


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