Indonesian forces 'still using cruel virginity tests'

AP
Indonesia's military and police continue to perform abusive virginity tests on female recruits three years after the WHO declared they had no scientific validity.
AP

Indonesia’s military and police continue to perform abusive virginity tests on female recruits three years after the World Health Organization declared they had no scientific validity, an international human rights group said on Wednesday.

Human Rights Watch said senior Indonesian police and military officers told the group that security forces still imposed the “cruel and discriminatory tests,” which were conducted under the guise of psychological examinations for mental health and morality reasons.

Human Rights Watch said the Indonesian government’s tolerance of such tests “reflects an appalling lack of political will to protect the rights of Indonesian women.” The group urged President Joko Widodo to order the national police chief and military commander to ban the practice.

The testing includes the invasive “two-finger test” to determine whether female applicants’ hymens are intact, which lacks any scientific basis, the World Health Organization said in its 2014 clinical guidelines for the healthcare of sexually abused women.

Three years ago, Indonesia’s military defended the practise as safeguarding morality.

The police said it had stopped virginity tests three years ago. Currently, health checks for male and female recruits included tests for venereal diseases, and only female medical staff test female recruits, police said.

Human Rights Watch said it found that applicants who were deemed to have failed the virginity test were not necessarily penalized, but all of the women it spoke with described the test as painful, embarrassing and traumatic.

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