Indonesian military conducts virgin tests for suitability

Indonesian military conducts virgin tests for suitability
In this photo, female members of the Indonesian armed forces perform, during Kartini day, a ceremony commemorating emancipation of Indonesian women in Jakarta.

The Indonesian military has insisted that virginity tests for women recruits were necessary to check whether they are "naughty".

It said people of low morals could "damage the military", but denied that those planning to marry officers were also subject to the checks.

The comments come after Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged authorities to drop the "discriminatory and invasive" virginity tests, The Guardian reported.

HRW, an international human rights watchdog, said yesterday that the examinations - carried out through a "two-finger test" by medics to see whether the hymen is intact - were a form of gender-based violence and unscientific.

But Indonesian military spokesman Fuad Basya told The Guardian: "We need to examine the mentality of these applicants. If they are no longer virgins, if they are naughty, it means their mentality is not good.''

He claimed the test had been carried out "for a long time" and that it can determine whether the women have "accidentally" lost their virginity or were sexually active. He said those who failed were not eligible to join the military.

Said Mr Fuad: "We will continue to carry out the test because, to be a military person, the most important thing is your mentality. Physical and intellectual requirements are secondary."

In a statement, HRW said the military "should immediately end the use of so-called virginity tests, which violate the prohibition of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international human rights law", AFP reported.

HRW interviewed 11 recruits and officers' fiancees who took the test.

They also spoke to people involved in conducting the examinations.


Those tested described the practice as painful, embarrassing and traumatic.

"I felt humiliated. It was very tense," said one applicant, cited anonymously in HRW's report.

She added that she was "shocked" that the doctor performing the test was a man. "It's against the rights of every woman," she said.

A female doctor who administered the test described it as torture on the women and stopped doing it.

HRW urged Indonesian President Joko Widodo to immediately abolish the requirement.

The research was released ahead of an international conference on military medicine in Bali next week.

HRW is lobbying support from the conference's member countries - including the US, UK and Australia - to pressure Indonesia into ceasing the virginity tests.

This article was first published on May 15, 2015.
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