Indonesian army puts an end to degrading “virginity tests” on young girls
Women soldiers march through Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo: Achmad Ibrahim / AP
The Indonesian military has announced the end of its controversial “virginity tests” for female cadets and recruits, a move hailed by feminists and human rights groups who have campaigned against the practice for decades.
The invasive procedure is known in Indonesia as the “two-finger test,” in which doctors insert two fingers into a woman’s vagina to supposedly assess whether her hymen is still intact. The military has previously defended the practice as necessary to determine a soldier’s character. Those declared “non-virgin” would then be rejected upon recruitment.
Army General and Chief of Staff Andika Perkasa told reporters on Tuesday that the tests would no longer take place. “Whether the hymen was ruptured or partially ruptured was part of the examination… now there is no more of that,” he said.
Andika said last week that the selection processes for male and female soldiers must be equal.
For years, Indonesian doctors have declared that virginity tests had no scientific basis. Human rights groups and feminists, who have campaigned against the practice for decades, have lauded the military’s decision. “There was never a need for testing,” Andy Yentriyani, head of the National Commission on Violence Against Women, Recount Reuters.
In 2018, the World Health Organization called for the elimination of these tests, calling them “violation of the human rights of girls and women”.
In a report celebrating the military’s decision, Jakarta-based researcher Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch wrote that the military was “doing the right thing” by ending “abusive, unscientific and discriminatory” testing.
“It is now the responsibility of territorial and battalion commanders to follow orders and recognize the unscientific and abusive nature of this practice,” he said. “Increased pressure must also be focused on senior navy and air force commanders to follow the army’s lead and end this practice. ”
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