Forced virginity tests slammed

HARARE - Traditional virginity testing is an inhumane practice that disadvantages the girl-child, registrar of the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) Busani Sibanda has said.

Sibanda, who is also a United Apostolic Faith Church bishop, said though the practice has waned, there are still pockets within the apostolic movement still practicing it.

“When I was growing up, girls would be taken to the river. There they would be subjected to what is called virginity testing.

“When they came back, you could tell the methods used were not safe by merely looking at them. Then announcements would be made at the shrine that madzimai Mary is still a virgin but madzimai Peggy is not,” said Sibanda, speaking during the graduation of 25 HIV ambassadors on Friday.

“There are a few who are still doing it today. What you are doing there is denting the future of that child. I am not sure if that is not what we call stigmatisation. It is inhumane.”

During the virginity testing, according to Sibanda, elderly women would insert their fingers into a girl’s private parts.

The practice is reportedly still rife within ultra-conservative apostolic churches.

According to Union for Development of Apostolic and Zionist Churches (Udaciza), the cases remain largely unreported because such churches exist as closed societies.

Sibanda said apart from it being inhuman, the cultural method of virginity testing also exposes the girls to infectious diseases.

“When they insert those fingers, which may have long nails or may not be washed after every insertion, they can transfer diseases from one girl to the other,” he said.

Challenging the graduates, Sibanda said: “Make sure you go out and save your nation using the knowledge that you have acquired from experts on HIV.”

The pioneer youthful graduates were drawn from 11 apostolic churches in Mabvuku and Tafara.

The training was funded by the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) and facilitated by Population Services International (PSI) Zimbabwe.

Government is concerned by unhealthy practices within such churches which include early marriages, child labour and negative behaviour.

The apostolic movement constitutes 33 percent of the Christian population in Zimbabwe.

With the help of partners and umbrella bodies, the administration has begun engaging members of apostolic churches.


Comments (5)

Wow. Never agreed with Apostolics before until now. These tests must be condemned indeed.

Moe - 30 April 2014

i don't agree with "Bishop" , i don't subscribe to your school of thought especially on the idea that virginity test is inhumane . i am made to query your Christianity , virginity test should be compulsory to all girl children below the age of 16 and what should only be looked at is the way these are done not to say they are inhumane, that the highest stupidity sentiment i have heard from a Bishop in my life. Virginity test will actually protect our girls from sexual abuse . i suspect you want to rape these vulnerable kids and or take them for marriage and you fear if they be tested you will be found wanting . all we should be doing is finding ways that are cheaper and safe for our kids and not to say these should be scraped.

SHELZ - 30 April 2014

I think the bishop reads from a different bible. Even Isaac, the husband to Rebbecca, Abraham sent forth his servant to go to his tribe to get a wife for Isaac. He stressed the point that the woman must be virgin. The only big gift a woman can give her husband is virginity and there is no negotiation about that. Even our culture recognizes that, ndicho chimanda chacho chinobisirwa mombe. U got it very wrong Bishop please do not mislead our well informed nation.

Takawira Mclean - 30 April 2014

Well during my time it was done to us not as apostolics no! but I am a muchangani clan. To tell the truth I hated it ,my mother used to have a group of women who tested us.I did not practice that on my children ,but by word only they looked after themselves not that I brag about it.Some of the girls knowing that they would be going for these tests they stil engaged in sexual relationship. Food for thought.

mariyeti mpala - 30 April 2014

@mariyeti mpala you don't know what you are talking about. You say "by word" your daughters looked after themselves. How does a mother know their daughter is still a virgin? Even if you get mombe yechimanda or jira risina kuboorwa it doesn't necessarily mean purity of your daughter. Most men do not want to expose their wife, their in laws and themselves kuti vakaroora munhu akanyakatidzwa nevamwe varume.

Mukwambo - 30 April 2014

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