Sixteen girls have been awarded scholarships for keeping their virginity, Associated Press reports. The girls also agreed to abstain from sex and undergo regular virginity tests to keep their scholarships. The scholarship, which was awarded by the Mayor of Uthukela, Dudu Mazibuko, is a way of encouraging young girls in the area to abstain from sex. Mazibuko said the scholarships would be renewed as long as they can produce certificates to prove their virginity. She said about 22, 286 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 became pregnant in 2013 according to a research from a professor at North-West University in South Africa. A survey by Statistics South Africa found the figure to be equivalent to 5.6 percent of girls in the area.
At least one group in South African is taking issue with the virgin scholarships. Mfanozelwe Shozi, chairman of the Commission for Gender Equality, said the mayor’s intentions are good but the scholarship is ultimately discriminatory.
“There is an issue around discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, virginity and even against boys,” he told the AP. “This is going too far.”