A group of 16 young women in South Africa have been awarded scholarships by their mayor for remaining virgin in an effort to push other young people to be “pure and focus on school.”

According to the Associated Press, the mayor of the Uthukela district municipality, Dudu Mazibuko, told a local radio station that the recipients had all agreed to undergo periodic exams to prove their virginity. He went on:

“To us, it’s just to say thank you for keeping yourself and you can still keep yourself for the next three years until you get your degree or certificate.”

The mayor says his intention was to encourage women, who are more often faced with the problems that arise with young pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections and diseases, to continue their educations, rather than becoming pregnant early. But the country’s chairman for the Commission for Gender Equality, Mfanozelwe Shozi, said that they “don’t agree” with the move, adding that the scholarships are “going too far” and contribute to discrimination against young pregnant women.

This isn’t the first time scholarships like this have been attempted (and virginity tests have proven continually problematic in countless countries in the past). In 2009, multiple sources reported that a province in Sierra Leone was offering virginity grants, too.

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Contact the author at melissa.cronin@gawker.com.