Indonesian police and military officers continue to perform traumatic “virginity tests” on female recruits, despite their pledge to abandon the practice in 2015, Human Rights Watch says.
The human rights organization said it was told by the top brass of Indonesian police and military their security forces still impose the humiliating and discriminatory tests under the guise of “morality reasons.”
Human Rights Watch called upon President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to put an end to the cruel practice, which involves a brutal invasion of the bodies of female recruits, called the “two-finger test.” The procedure is supposed to determine whether the woman had sex or if she was pregnant. The reason: A woman who is not a virgin is considered immoral and not appropriate for the military.
“If they are no longer virgins, if they are naughty, it means their mentality is not good,” said a military spokesman, Fuad Basya.
However, the World Health Organization clinical guidelines debunked this myth back in 2014, as it has no basis in science.
In any event, employment based on virginity or pregnancy status is a form of sexual discrimination, which is already prohibited in Indonesia legal code.
Women who spoke with HRW said the test was “painful, embarrassing and traumatic,” and those women who fail the test are not necessarily punished. In other words, this is just a ruse to debase women for no reason.
“The Indonesian government’s continuing tolerance for abusive ‘virginity tests’ by the security forces reflects an appalling lack of political will to protect the rights of Indonesian women,” said Nisha Varia, the women’s rights advocacy director HRW.
A military doctor said senior military personnel were aware of the argument against the “virginity test,” but were reluctant to abolish the practice. He said banning it would require a direct intervention by Armed Forces commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo to explicitly order an end to the test.
Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto said the women in the police force are still tested for venereal disease but not men. The tests have gone for decades and in some cases, even fiancées of military personnel are subjected to them.
Human Rights Watch has also recorded the use of such tests by security forces in India, Afghanistan and Egypt and has denounced calls for virginity tests for Indonesian schoolgirls.
“Virginity tests” have been internationally recognized as a violation of human rights under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and article 16 of the Convention against Torture. Both of these codes have been ratified by Indonesia.
Banner/Thumbnail: REUTERS, Enny Nuraheni