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Chiefs back virginity tests
The Herald (Zimbabwe)
September 09, 2005

Chiefs Nembudziya and Chireya in Gokwe North District have thrown their weight behind the revival of virginity testing as a means of discouraging premarital sexual activity and reducing HIV/Aids.

The two traditional leaders follow in the wake of Chief Makoni of Manicaland who, a few years ago, resuscitated the traditional practice of examining young girls for chastity in his area for moral and health reasons.

They recently directed headman in their chiefdoms to identify elderly men and women to conduct the tests.

The fading traditional practice, commonly referred to as "Kurukova", involves the testing of girls at the puberty stage to ascertain their virginity status and was broadly approved in rural communities where it was common.

Girls were taken to a river where elders, using traditional skills passed from generation to generation, established whether they had indulged in sex.

Briefing journalists on a tour of the Midlands Province at Tsungayi Business Centre in Nembudziya, Mrs Lizzy Chin'ono, a care-giver in the area, said elderly women capable of conducting the tests would be assigned to carry out the task.

"The idea behind the practice is to ensure that boys and girls enter into marriage in a pure or chaste state," she said.

Some areas among them Ward 6B, have already started conducting the tests. Local villagers said virginity testing was the best way to ensure that boys and girls do not engage in premarital sex, which exposed them to HIV /Aids.

However, Midlands Province National Aids Council (NAC) Aids co-ordinator Mr. Emmanuel Rubaya stressed that the tests should be conducted in a way that ensured strict observance of children's rights.

Mr. Rubaya said the tests should not be carried out in a dehumanising manner or in a way that would expose the teenage boys and girls to the same diseases they sort to curb.

"It depends on how it is done and what happens when one is found not to be a virgin. Forcing them to go for HIV test is against their rights. They have to go there on a voluntary basis," he said.

Mrs Chin'ono, however, said the practice was meant to ensure that those who were certified as virgins were nurtured to preserve that status until they got married so as to break the vicious circle of HIV and Aids infection.

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