Probing virginity testing on girl child: the case of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Virginity testing is defined as “a practice and process of inspecting the genitalia of unmarried girls and women to determine if they are sexually active. Virginity testing is a practice that is common in some sub-Saharan African countries including Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa. In Zimbabwe, virginity testing is performed in order to curb the further spread of HIV/AIDS. Proponents of virginity testing maintain that with its emphasis on total abstinence from sexual intercourse by girls, the practice is being revived to prevent HIV infection, to detect incest and abuse, and to re-instil and promote lost cultural values. Traditionalists view the revival of virginity testing as a signal of going back to basics and it enjoys a lot of support from those communities that practice it. In spite of concerted efforts to conduct virginity testing in all areas, some girls still fall pregnant, drop out of school and depend on their mothers to support their children. This paper therefore probes virginity testing among young girls in a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal. The study draws on desk-based method, un-structured face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions conducted with girls aged 12 to 21 years.
Keywords: Virginity, Testing, Genitilia, Hymnal Examinations, Ukuhlolwakwentombi, HIV/AIDS infections