'Certified' virgins praise king for reviving testing
Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini was showered with praises by virgins on Sunday for reviving virginity testing and ''sticking to it even when criticised by ignorant individuals".
Nearly 200 bare-breasted maidens from Buffelsdraai, north of Durban, danced in jubilation on being awarded certificates of purity after it was found their hymens were intact. The certificates were awarded after testing by "qualified" virginity inspectors.
''As Zulus, we are not forced to do it. We do it because it is our culture. We thank the king for reviving it. We abstain from sex to protect ourselves from diseases and unplanned pregnancies,'' said 21-year-old Mbali Ngcobo.
She insisted that those opposed to virginity testing, who claimed it was immoral and violated girls' rights, did not know what they were talking about.
''They must show us one maiden who has complained. They must come and ask us how we feel. We will tell them they must back off.''
Ngcobo accused those who criticised the practice as ignorant.
''They must leave our culture alone. It helps teach us to respect ourselves, our bodies, and to love ourselves by remaining pure until one reaches the age where her body, spirit and mind are ready for sex and its consequences,'' she said.
Nomthandazo Khubisa, 22, said it was their right not to have sex.
''By undergoing virginity testing we are exercising our right to our culture.''
Virginity inspector Nunu Ngcobo said no child was forced to participate.
''They are the ones who encouraged us to do it. When we conduct tests, we are not merely checking whether the child has had sex. We go beyond that. It involves teaching them to respect their parents and encouraging them not to fight with their schoolmates,'' said Ngcobo.
She said that when they find that a girl is no longer a virgin, they call her mother and tell her of what they had found.
''This remains confidential between myself, the child and her mother. People must not think that we do it to humiliate those we have found to have had sex.''
Ngcobo said they were trying to find ways of testing boys.
''It is no use testing girls, encouraging them to remain pure, and leaving the boys out. Girls do not make themselves pregnant. Neither do they get diseases from themselves. Boys need to realise the importance of not having sex. By so doing we will have a disease-free generation,'' she said.
Thandiwe Luthuli, chairman of Izintombi Zemvelo, said that before the organisation was established, in 2009, girls as young as 12 were falling pregnant.
''We have seen a significant drop in child pregnancies. We will keep doing this because it yields results.''
ANC councillor Nondumiso Ndlovu said: ''It's our culture. As Africans we are too modernised.
"This is one culture which must be preserved, otherwise we will continue having illegal abortions and unplanned pregnancies.''