This view is supported by several prominent leaders and politicians, including the Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini, and Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who, according to a report by the BBC in September last year, said the practice was an integral part of black culture. Virginity testing has become not only a gender issue, but an issue of black consciousness too.
But human rights groups, medical professionals and many in the government see the practice as a violation of privacy, and a way of controlling and manipulating young women.
Teboho Maitse, a member of South Africa's Commission on Gender Equality, described the test as "discriminatory, invasive of privacy, unfair, impinging on the dignity of young girls and unconstitutional", according to a report by the UN website, PlusNews.
According to a report in the Mail and Guardian by Amita Paratar in August 2004 on virginity testing practices, many young girls "stuff meat and lace into their vaginas to fool the testers".
Paratar writes that venues for these tests "include churches, schools and football fields, and attract girls as young as five".
So far, there are no standards governing the way these tests are carried out, and by whom.
Virginity testing is also seen as a health risk; the Sunday Times reported in December that young girls were opting to rather engage in anal sex in order to keep their status as a virgin intact ? which in itself poses greater risk for the spread of Aids.
Earlier this year, the government ? acting on advice from doctors and human rights groups ? moved to ban virginity testing as part of the new Children's Rights Bill. The bill has been passed by the National Assembly but awaits the approval of the National Council of Provinces.
Meanwhile, demonstrations in late July by Zulu and Xhosa virgins across KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, have ostensibly shown that the practice is gaining popularity among the youth.
According to a some reports, protesting young maidens said: "We go through the virginity test because we want to. After all, it is my body to do with what I want.
"Why should the government dictate to me what I should not do with my own body? They are violating our rights to practice our culture."