Virginity testing uproar continues

Women and children’s rights pressure groups have condemned virginity testing, a cultural tradition performed on young girls ostensibly to curb immoral behaviour before marriage.

Linda Guzha: girls are not objects for male satisfaction.
Linda Guzha: girls are not objects for male satisfaction.

The condemnation comes in the wake of recent virginity tests on female grade seven pupils at Tsetse primary school in West Acre, about 27 kilometres along the Bulawayo –Plumtree road. The move has sparked controversy, with some villagers in the area saying the exercise was meant to embarrass their children. The parents say they were not consulted over the issue and described it as a form of sexual abuse on young girls.

“We were shocked when our children were called to undergo virginity tests on allegations that they were being sexually abused at home. The Child Protection Committee and the teachers threatened to beat up the pupils if they did not reveal whom they have slept with.

“They were then ordered to be physically examined by nurses,” said one parent whose daughter was subjected to the tests. The Zimbabwe Programme Director for Days for Girls, Linda Valerie Guzha, said virginity testing is no longer acceptable in today’s world.

“The recognition of a woman begins as a young girl who is given her full rights and individualism. A woman is capable of reaching her fullest potential if given all her ammunition which includes dignity. Going through virginity testing as a young girl is taking 10 steps back in empowering women,” said Guzha who is also the Executive Director of Wellspring Women’s Network International.

Guzha stressed that women and girls are not objects for male satisfaction but beings with emotions and equal rationality.

“Using old methods to instill morality in these modern times is illogical because it has serious consequences. There are more appropriate measures that maintain dignity and respect to the girl child. You should also consider the after effects of virginity testing in schools once such confidential personal information is leaked. Taunting, stigmatization, and bullying are to come into effect which may lead to serious incidences such as suicide amongst young girls,” she said.

Guzha’s sentiments were also echoed by Elizabeth Moyo of the Girl Child Protection Trust.

“Virginity testing in schools is a form of sexual abuse and discriminatory. There are a lot of decent ways of curbing immorality. This practice is unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” said Moyo.

The minister of Education, sports, Arts and Culture, David Coltart said virginity testing is schools was contrary to the government‘s policy.

“We certainty do not condone genetic testing in schools as that is contrary to government policy. Any teacher who does that will be subjected to disciplinary procedures.

Headmasters do not have the right to make decisions of such matters.Matters of health about the child should be handled with the full consent of the parents,” he said.

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