Sunday, December 14, 2014


It is common in the Indonesian capital for young females to enter an administrative police building and told to strip. The reason is nothing sinister but rather a degrading and discriminating act of virginity testing.  According to Indonesian law the females who want to enter the police department must be “pure” and free of any sexually transmitted diseases. The test is listed publicly as a requirement and performed as part of chief of police health inspection guidelines for new candidates. It requires women to complete the obstetrics and gynecology exam and virginity test is a part of it. The female recruits are also required to remain single and no marry for a few years after joining the police force.

The Human Rights Watch in Indonesia interviewed many recruits and asked their reaction. They said the examination is very degrading and very painful. Some of them even fainted in the tests. The girls said that though the doctors who performed the test are females, it still is a traumatizing event for them. The Human rights Watch complained to the government to stop the test and in 2010 they officially stopped doing it. But as observed in the police buildings, the tests are still going on. According to Nisha Varia, associate woman’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, these so called virginity tests are discriminating and a form of gender biased violence. The test is not a measure of woman’s eligibility in the police department. This archaic practice not only keeps able women out of the police, but deprives all Indonesians of a police force with the most genuinely qualified officers.

An Indonesian police spokesman, Maj Gen Ronny Sompie, said ‘The test was no reason to ‘respond negatively to the force’s requirements, and that the exam was used to establish whether applicants have a sexually transmitted disease or not. All of this is done in professional environment and does not harm the applicants. The virginity test is gender discriminating and an archaic practice. The thing which I do not understand is if they are testing for sexually transmitted diseases why don’t they test males as well? Why the females have to suffer the trauma of going through such a traumatic and degrading test. I have used the word traumatic and degrading times and again in this article because it is exactly that. There are more non-invasive culture tests for STDs which can easily replace virginity test.

The virginity tests are a form of sexual violence hence, they are against the international standards of Human Rights. Attempts to reform and abolish the test have failed and the use of the test is still widespread. According to Human Rights Watch the virginity test contradicts internationally agreed human rights standards. HRW have also catalogued similar abuses by police in several different countries including Egypt, India and Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch says that the report is counterproductive to the Indonesian government’s aim to recruit more women to the police force. The organization has also taken stand against the virginity test for Indonesian schoolgirls.

Source: Arab News

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