JAKARTA - High-school girls in an Indonesian district will not be subjected to virginity tests in order to graduate, an official insisted Wednesday, after a lawmaker sparked an outcry by proposing the move.
The MP in the Jember local parliament on the main island of Java, last week put forward a regulation on "good conduct" that included forcing female students to pass a virginity test before they can complete high school.
He argued that the move was aimed at tackling pre-marital sex in conservative Indonesia, which has the world's biggest Muslim population.
But rights groups and Islamic authorities alike reacted furiously, prompting officials in Jember to swiftly distance themselves from the plan.
Kusen Andalas, deputy head of the district, insisted Wednesday that the proposal would not go ahead: "I don't think it is ethical to carry out such tests, it is against people's rights."
The parliament's deputy speaker, Ayub Junaidi, had already reportedly apologised for the comments and said no such bylaw would be enacted.
Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia, Phelim Kine, described the proposal as "appalling", adding: "The Indonesian government's tolerance for this violence against women and girls needs to end."
The issue of virginity tests has caused controversy in Indonesia before.
In 2013, the education chief of a city on western Sumatra island sparked outrage by suggesting that teenage schoolgirls should undergo virginity tests to enter senior high school.
The police faced criticism last year after a study said female applicants to the force were subjected to such examinations.