By Ainur Rohmah
Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that Indonesia’s military and police continue to perform abusive ‘virginity tests’ on female recruits, although the World Health Organization (WHO) says the tests have no scientific validity.
“The Indonesian government’s continuing tolerance of abusive ‘virginity tests’ by the security forces reflects an appalling lack of political will to protect the rights of Indonesian women,” said Nisha Varia, women’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement.
"These tests are degrading and discriminatory and they harm women’s equal access to important job opportunities," she added.
The group said based on testimonies from senior military and police officers, these cruel and discriminatory tests, which are officially classified as “psychological” examinations, continue to be imposed for “mental health and morality reasons”.
The group is urging Indonesian President Joko Widodo to order police chiefs and armed forces commanders to immediately ban the tests.
Widodo “should declare an immediate prohibition of ‘virginity tests’ by the military and police and create an independent monitoring mechanism to ensure that security forces comply," Varia said.
In November 2014, the WHO issued guidelines that stated “there is no place for virginity testing; it has no scientific validity.”
The group first exposed the use of ‘virginity tests’ by Indonesian security forces in 2014. But since then, the government has failed to take the necessary steps to prohibit the practice.
Besides Indonesia, Human Rights Watch has also documented the use of the abusive ‘virginity tests’ by security forces in Egypt, India and Afghanistan.