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Virginity testing as a local public health initiative: a ‘preventive ritual’ more than a ‘diagnostic measure’
Linköping University, Department of Culture and Communication, Arts and Humanities. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0587-3399
2010 (English)In: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, ISSN 1359-0987, E-ISSN 1467-9655, Vol. 16, no 3, 532-550 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article focuses on virginity testing in Nkolokotho in northeastern rural KwaZulu Natal. I argue that testing is a strategy that involves the deployment of collective pressure and symbolic means both to increase the individual's and the community's responsibility for sexual relations, and to strengthen girls' and women's positions at a time of chronic HIV/AIDS. In the absence of effective measures against AIDS, inhabitants try to find alternative ways to protect young people. An older tradition that emphasizes the status of virgin girls and the significance of the collective is used in a strategy that incorporates HIV blood tests. I show how virginity testing is a ‘preventive ritual’ more than a ‘diagnostic measure’, while emphasizing how both South African and Western projects aimed at improving the situation are grounded in perspectives that sometimes collide with how local people conceive of both relationships and sexuality.

Abstract [fr]

Le présent article est consacréà la vérification de la virginitéà Nkolokotho, dans le Nord-est rural du KwaZulu Natal. L'auteur avance que ce test est une stratégie impliquant une pression collective et la mise en œuvre de moyens symboliques pour responsabiliser individus et collectivité en matière de relations sexuelles et renforcer la position des jeunes filles et des femmes en ces temps de VIH endémique. Faute de mesures efficaces pour lutter contre le SIDA, les habitants de la région recherchent d'autres moyens de protéger les jeunes. Une tradition ancienne, montant en épingle le statut des jeunes filles vierges et l'importance du collectif, est mise à contribution dans une stratégie qui inclut le dépistage sanguin du VIH. L'auteur montre en quoi la vérification de la virginité est un « rituel préventif » plus qu'une « mesure de diagnostic », tout en mettant en lumière la façon dont les projets initiés par l'Afrique du Sud et les pays occidentaux pour améliorer la situation s'inscrivent dans une perspective qui peut entrer en conflit avec la manière dont les populations locales envisagent les relations et la sexualité.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell Publishing Ltd , 2010. Vol. 16, no 3, 532-550 p.
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-58645DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2010.01638.xISI: 000280671900005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-58645DiVA: diva2:344889
Available from: 2013-04-09 Created: 2010-08-20 Last updated: 2017-12-12Bibliographically approved

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Wickström, Anette

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