SAFRICA-TRADITION-REED DANCE(HUFFINGTONPOST) – When the South African Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) ruled in June 2016 that a so-called “maiden bursary” scheme introduced by a district earlier in the year to reward women for remaining virgins was “unlawful, unfair, unreasonable and unconstitutional,” the decision was welcomed by gender and human rights activists. But cultural leaders in the country are pushing back against the ruling, saying it infringes on cultural rights, and that virginity testing is an integral part of Zulu tradition.

Renewed debate over the subject of virginity testing erupted in January 2016, when the uThukela district council in KwaZulu-Natal province, eastern South Africa, awarded bursaries to 16 young unmarried women, on condition that they refrain from sex for the duration of their tertiary education and agree to undergo regular testing to prove they are still virgins. The council said the bursary was an attempt to curb teenage pregnancy and the spread of HIV/AIDS, both of which are problems in the region.