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Virginity Testing as a Local Public Health Initiative
Linköping University, Department of Culture and Communication. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2009 (English)Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper 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 indivual'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 emphasizies 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.

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Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-63072OAI: diva2:376024
6th Nordic Medical Anthropology Conference, Göteborg.
Available from: 2010-12-09 Created: 2010-12-09 Last updated: 2012-11-08

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Department of Culture and CommunicationFaculty of Arts and Sciences
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

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