Sorry, Are You a Virgin?

by Unathi Kondile

Cape Town – I hear there a new trend in the United States. Ladies can duly undergo a process of becoming ‘born-again virgins’ which then declares them marriage-worthy again. Is this true? Look we South Africans get a lot if irrelevant news about US folks. Now if I was writing for a South African readership, I’d probably nod and say: “Yep, anything is possible in the US: George Bush is still president, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a governor of a state, etcetera.” Heck the more I think about it, the more possible it all seems.

Well, if you thought the United States was the only one grooming virgins you have a major surprise coming in my next few lines. Firstly let me gauge your take on ‘virginity testing’ as a whole?

…silence…

Hmm! Silence? You probably abhor the thought in itself and find it an abhorrent infringement of any young women’s privacy and rights, right? Right. So I recently wrote an article for a local news site and it went as follows (and I’m just cutting out the irrelevant bits):

“… Apparently thousands of Zulu maidens will undergo this virginity testing in preparation for the Zulu King’s annual reed dance where he picks his latest maiden wife. But as usual from afar in the comfort of their living rooms and plasma TVs the western souls howl and cry foul and even go as far as saying virginity testing defies the recent children’s act.

“To hell with the Children’s Act. The Children’s Act in itself defies black cultural practises! And hence we have children yelling they have a right to this and that, whilst blatantly undermining their cultures. Now the heat is on virginity testing.

“But what fails me is the fact that no one seems to see the values of virginity testing. Firstly it instils a sense of pride about maintaining one’s virginity – as opposed to the West’s “Oh my gosh, you’re still a virgin!” taboo. Secondly it plays a role in teen-pregnancy reduction. Thirdly this testing also plays a pivotal role in HIV prevention. The more virgins the less HIV right? Right!

“And don’t tell me about other intravenous methods of acquiring HIV – rural girls in Harding in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province know nothing about swapping needles and shooting up coke. So I ask could virginity testing really be that bad? Considering the fact that it largely leans towards yielding the positive.

“Really now what does the West want us to do? Those girls are proud to be virgins and you now want to come and remove that sense of cultural pride and breed communities that think being a virgin is taboo.

“To all those crying foul of Zulu virginity testing – leave the Zulus alone, at least they have something that works in these days of promiscuity and rapid HIV infections.”

Just in case you are wondering about our children’s act, it states things like: lowering the age of majority from 21 years to 18, bans virginity testing, it makes it possible for unmarried fathers to enjoy full parental responsibilities and even allows inter-country adoption, and regulates surrogate motherhood.

I live in a very interesting country I tell you! You have to love South Africa. I do.