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Scholarships for virgins?

A controversial scheme offering university scholarships to young South African women who remain virgins is unconstitutional, the Commission for Gender Equality ruled on Friday.

The “maiden’s bursaries” offered by a local mayor sparked a nationwide debate in January, with critics slamming the scheme’s emphasis on virginity as outdated while traditionalists said it would help preserve African culture.

On Friday, the gender commission said the program discriminated against women because male students were not subjected to the same tests.

“Any funding by an organ of state based on a woman’s sexuality perpetuates patriarchy and inequality in South Africa,” it said in a statement.

Rights groups applauded the ruling.