The Washington Post (Brulliard, Washington Post, 9/26) reports that a debate between the South African Zulu tribe and the government has arisen over the traditional practice of virginity testing. The virginity tests, usually performed by elderly tribal women, involve inspecting the genitals of girls for torn hymens. Advocates of the practice said the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country makes the testing important because it serves as a "culturally sanctioned abstinence campaign."
Clearly the Government chose individual rights over those which are culturally derived when it banned the practice last year.
Is it me or have the tribal elders missed the point? If the hyman is broken through sexual activity, the "culturally sanctioned abstinence campaign" has already failed and the transmission of HIV/AIDS has already occurred. Its like monitoring the grounds with a Geiger counter to prevent an atomic weapon from being set off.
The problem with these programs is that they conveniently ignore male participation in the activity. If males chose to not participate in sexual behaviors with virgins, there would be no torn hymens. If males would not catch HIV/AIDS they could not pass it to their partners.
There is a cultural basis against females in many societies which subjects them to these types of activities and conveniently ignores their male partners. Paternalism is alive and well. Regulations directed to reducing unwanted pregnancies and or sexually transmitted diseases will fail unless the government and the culture underlying the government recognize that both partners have a responsibility to act appropriately.