Indonesia army is likely to end its ‘virginity test’ for female recruits
Human rights groups have applauded the Indonesian army’s apparent intention to cease the “abusive” and widely condemned “virginity testing” of female recruits.
The practice is known in Indonesia as the “two-finger test,” since doctors would push two fingers into the woman’s vaginal canal during the examination to see if the hymen was still intact. Those who were not declared virgins were not eligible for recruitment.
Army Chief of Staff Gen Andika Perkasa announced the end of the decades-long practice in a teleconference with military commanders across Indonesia, saying that women will be recruited in the same way as males.
“There will be no more [medical] examination outside that purpose,” Perkasa said. “There are things that are not relevant … And [we] can’t do that kind of examination anymore. We must do the same examination on the women recruits like we do on the men recruits.”
The vaginal test was also used on the female fiancees of military commanders in some situations.
The Indonesian navy and air force are expected to follow the army’s lead. Requests for comment from the Indonesian military have gone unanswered.
Alim Qibtiyah, a commissioner at the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), said she was still waiting for the policy switch to be made official but said it could mean more opportunities for women to join the military. Currently, only 10% of the country’s 450,000-armed services personnel are women.
The World Health Organisation has stated that virginity testing is unscientific, harmful, and a violation of women’s human rights that would bring immediate and long-term consequences that are detrimental to physical, psychological and social wellbeing of the women who took the test.
“The examination has no scientific merit or clinical indication – the appearance of a hymen is not a reliable indication of intercourse and there is no known examination that can prove a history of vaginal intercourse,” the WHO stated in its report entitled Eliminating Virginity Testing published in 2018.
Featured image: Tarmizy Harva / REUTERS/ NYDAILYNEWS
Written by Dhriti Chaturvedi