Decolonising HIV Prevention: A Critical Examination of Ukusoma and Virginity Testing

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Sinenhlanhla Sithulisiwe Chisale


A question that the Southern African region has been struggling with for some time is that, despite the efforts at preventing HIV through various methods, the region is still experiencing new HIV infections. Although this happens at a low rate, it still raises an alarm. Some, if not most, of the traditional HIV prevention methods from Africa have been criticised and rejected as human rights violations and as ‘sinful’. For this reason, this study is a critical examination of two African traditional practices namely ukusoma and virginity testing. These are two of the traditional methods of HIV prevention, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Adopting African feminists’ critical hermeneutics, this paper explains the different and complex implica-tions of both ukusoma and virginity testing on the lives of girls and on the prevention of HIV. The study argues that generally it would be an oversim-plifiication to claim that ukusoma and virginity testing are unequivocally either good or bad for girls, without a critical analysis of these practices while taking into account the shadow cast by HIV on ukusoma. I discuss how these traditional indigenous practices can, on one hand, be limiting and on the other hand, be a source of female power in a context of patriarchy, particularly taking into account the HIV epidemic.


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How to Cite
Chisale, S. (2016). Decolonising HIV Prevention: A Critical Examination of Ukusoma and Virginity Testing. Alternation Journal, 23(2), 217-235. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Sinenhlanhla Sithulisiwe Chisale, University of South Africa