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23 Sep 2004 11:01
Deputy President Jacob Zuma has encouraged young women to take part in the virginity-testing programme of the OR Tambo district municipality.
Speaking at the AmaMpondomise Heritage Celebrations held at Emdibanisweni Great Place near Umtata in the Eastern Cape, Zuma said the ancient practice of virginity testing is a viable solution to curbing the spread of HIV/Aids and teenage pregnancy.
About 40 young local women taking part in the programme were presented by the OR Tambo mayor Zoleka Capa during the celebrations.
Human rights groups have decried the practice of virginity testing—which has been carried out in KwaZulu-Natal and Swaziland in the past—as a violation of human rights and the dignity of women.
Zuma said in African custom women valued their virginity and that helped in keeping acceptable family values and self respect for both young women and men.
“Girls knew that their virginity was their family’s treasure and boys respected that. They would only have sex when permitted to do so by their families after marriage—something which made them respect each other.”
Zuma described the current situation, “where more and more children are giving birth to other children while still dependent on their parents”, as shameful.
“In the past such things were not existent because the communities and relatives had values that encouraged them to take responsibility of one’s neighbour or relative,” said Zuma.
He blamed previous governments for taking away the values of Africans under the auspices of civilisation, education and religion.
Zuma, who is heading the moral regeneration movement, said traditional leaders are the custodians of communal values, customs, traditions and culture.
He believed that they were best placed to assist in the building of strong families, a united nation and in fighting social ills such as domestic violence, and promote African values in the process of moral regeneration.
“We urge traditional leaders to also increase their role and participation in the campaign to combat the spread of HIV/Aids.”
He said the campaign needed the participation of every sector of society.
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