Human rights groups are calling on Indonesia to end the practice of requiring “virginity tests” for female military recruits, in which a doctor visually and manually checks for the presence of a hymen. An Indonesian military official told the Guardian the practice was necessary to weed out “naughty” women, while Human Rights Watch says it amounts to torture.
The Indonesian military uses a “two-finger” test to check for the intactness of female recruits’ hymens, according to several reports. Their bizarre fixation on virginity is coming under scrutiny this week at the World Conference on Military Medicine in Bali, the Washington Post reports. Besides the obvious point that the test is complete garbage — a broken hymen isn’t indicative of non-virginity — Human Rights Watch is asking that military physicians condemn the test on the grounds that it’s “harmful and humiliating” as well as a former of “gender-based violence.”
Indonesian military officials seem quite chipper about the whole thing, with spokesman Fuad Basya telling the Guardian, “We need to examine the mentality of these applicants. If they are no longer virgins, if they are naughty, it means their mentality is not good.” He also told the paper that the tests have been carried out for “a long time” and that they can even determine if a hymen was broken “accidentally” or through sex, which is very impressive, and, again, complete, skin-crawling nonsense.
Human Rights Watch says they sent this letter to the general surgeon of the Indonesian National Armed Forces, asking the virginity tests to be ended immediately and for psychological counseling to be made available for any recruit who had to undergo one. They have received no response.
Indonesia National Military Academy members march in formation, October 2014. Image via Getty.