Lack of virgins gives Danish charity fresh start

A charity foundation in the town of Vejle decided to find a new way to support vulnerable women after the original aim – to help virgins with no means of financial support – became rather outdated.

Lack of virgins gives Danish charity fresh start
Vejle. Photo: Henrik Bach Nielsen /Flickr

Charity Linnemanns Jomfrukloster (Linnemann’s Virgin Shelter) was founded in 1856 to support ‘single, worthy and in need virgins over the age of 40’.

The charity offered accommodation for five women fitting that description until, in 2016, the purpose of the scheme was changed, reports DR Trekantområdet.

With women fulfilling the criteria increasingly difficult to find, the property owned by the foundation was sold in 2016. Money raised by the sale is now used to offer housing subsidies – and recipients no longer need to be virgins.

In the mid-19th century, when the charity was founded, it was relatively easy to find women who had fallen on hard times by virtue of being single, museum inspector Lisbeth Aagaard Lykke of Vejle Museums told DR.

“If you were unmarried and over 40, and had no inheritance from your parents, there was nobody to support you,” Lykke said

The historian added that the Linnemann family, which founded the charity, also wanted to be remembered for its good deed.

The foundation itself still exists – now in an updated form.

Money raised from selling the property owned by the charity will now be used to help local people to pay their rent. To be eligible to receive the support, applicants must be female and over 40, but the requirement for chastity has been scrapped.

Josée Linnemann, a descendant of founder Andreas Linnemann and current board member, told DR that she was glad the aims of the foundation had been modernised.

“There are not many virgins over 40 in Denmark. We didn’t check them medically, but it was difficult to fulfil the conditions of the foundation,” Linnemann said.

“I’m maybe something of a feminist, and I think it is fantastic to be able to support women who perhaps have not had the opportunity to get an education or find a job,” she added.

The first grants awarded by the charity in its new form will be announced next week. 

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