he new leadership of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) is likely to spark fresh controversy after it backtracked on earlier calls for the abolition of cultural practices like ukuthwala and virginity testing. The two contentious matters had divided members amid concerns that abolishing them trampled on the beliefs of those who practised them.
The league had taken a tough stance on these issues leading up to its delayed elective conference, labelling practices like virginity testing as harmful.
But the butting of heads at the conference over the contentious issue led to a compromise.
Newly elected secretary-general Meogo Matuba (41) from North West told City Press that women at the conference agreed to respect each other’s beliefs, cultures and choices.
“Remember we are in a democratic country. Our society is one where everyone has rights and responsibilities and must respect one another. We will not force anybody to stop practising what they believe in.
“If you feel it’s your culture then we won’t be against it. There are things we also do as part of our culture, but we don’t talk about them,” said Matuba in an interview on Friday.
“Our position as the women’s league is that we support pro-choice. When someone says they choose it, then we give them the support.”
But Matuba said while that was the case, cultural practices such as ukuthwala – where a woman is abducted and married off to a man she is not in a relationship with – should be done in a manner in which women are not forced, but can make up their own minds.
ANCWL secretary Meogo Matuba