Female Indonesian military recruits have to go through a humiliating virginity test to serve their country.
The tests are carried out on female military recruits and fiancées of male servicemen to determine if they had been chaste before entering service. The degrading ‘two-finger test’ is sometimes carried out by male medics.
Human Rights Watch has asked for an end to the invasive, harmful and humiliating practice.
The tests carried out to check the hymen to see if it’s intact is unscientific and a form of gender-based violence. The advocacy group is calling on the military physicians convention in Bali next week to ask the Indonesian President to end the discriminatory practice.
The military insists the tests are necessary to determine the character of a person through their mentality, which itself is determined by their chastity, which requires the woman not to have engaged in sexual relationship before marriage.
“The Indonesian armed forces should recognize that harmful and humiliating ‘virginity tests’ on women recruits does nothing to strengthen national security,” said Nisha Varia, HRW women’s rights advocacy director. “President Joko Widodo should set the military straight and immediately abolish the requirement and prevent all military hospitals from administering it.”
For decades, Indonesia has required female military recruits and the future wives of male military officers to undergo the so-called “two-finger” virginity test as part of an overall medical evaluation. The test is used to determine if a woman’s hymen is intact, though the HRW says the test is scientifically baseless because a hymen can be torn due to reasons unrelated to sex.
Female soldiers and military officers’ wives interviewed by the HRW called the process humiliating.
“What shocked me was finding out that the doctor who was to perform the test was a man,” said one recruit who underwent a virginity test in 2013. “I had mixed feelings. I felt humiliated. It was very tense. It’s all mixed up. I hope the future medical examination excludes virginity test. It’s against the rights of every woman.”
The International Committee of Military Medicine, a Belgium-based intergovernmental organization, convenes Sunday through May 22 in Bali.
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