Indonesian army abolishes virginity tests for female recruits – benarnews
The Indonesian military chief said on Tuesday that the military wing is no longer subjecting female recruits to so-called virginity tests, clarifying recent comments implying that the military would abandon the practice.
Widely received by activists, the comments shed new light on the controversial practice, but it was not immediately clear whether the change would take effect in Navy and Air Force recruiting efforts.
“The hymen was part of the examination to check, for example, whether the hymen is intact, partially ruptured or completely ruptured. Now there is no longer such a review, ”General Andika Perkasa told reporters in Manado, where a joint exercise with US military personnel was underway.
A ruptured hymen – a membrane inside the vagina – was traditionally thought to indicate sexual activity, a hypothesis that has since been refuted by health officials because many types of activity can stretch or break it.
Andika said the decision was made following an annual review aimed at improving the army’s recruiting system.
“[T]he goal of improving the selection process is more about health, in order to avoid fatal incidents such as color blindness, heart problems and incidents during training, ”he said.
During a video conference on July 18, Andika told regional commanders that women seeking to enlist in the military should be tested only to determine their ability to undergo basic military training, like their male counterparts.
Andika said on Tuesday that in the past, health checks required for recruits included inspections of internal genitalia.
“Now there are no more vaginal and cervical exams, but the external exams are still in place, without involving the special inspections,” he said.
These checks are aimed at detecting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV / AIDS, he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said the so-called virginity tests have no scientific merit or clinical indication.
“The appearance of a hymen is not a reliable indication of intercourse, and there is no known test that can prove a history of vaginal intercourse,” the organization said.
Virginity checks came to light in 2014 when New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report on Indonesian police performing such tests. A year later, HRW published a report on the practice in the Indonesian military.
In its 2015 report, HRW cited a military medic in Jakarta who said the test was part of the mandatory physical exams and was administered early in the recruitment process.
The doctor, who requested anonymity, said the tests took place at military hospitals across the country, with female military candidates examined in large rooms divided into rooms separated by curtains.
The HRW report states that the 20 women interviewed between 2014 and 2015 cried when recounting their experiences.
In 2015, the national police abolished the practice, which typically includes an invasive “two-finger test” to determine if the hymen is intact, according to HRW.
Last week, the president of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), Andy Yetriyani, hailed the military chief’s July directive as a positive step.
“We appreciate Andika’s statement, but things like this should be written, to show the seriousness of the military and the military as a whole,” she told BenarNews at the time. .
A spokesperson for the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) told BenarNews last week that the rules for new recruits had not changed.
“A full medical examination of TNI candidates includes a hymen examination,” Col. Djawara Whimbo told BenarNews on Friday.
Whimbo rejected the WHO conclusion on the practice.
“WHO has nothing to do with us. We adhere to our oriental values, ”he said.