Indonesia Halts Widely Condemned ‘Virginity Tests’ for Public Jobs

Indonesian female police officer
AFP Photo/Adek Berry

Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo announced the country will stop administering virginity tests for female civil servants at the Institute of Public Administration. Students attend the college to train for civil and regional administration jobs.

“A woman is not a virgin can be due [sic] to several reasons, such as a fall,” said Tjahjo. “This should not be a measure. It is a pity that just because of that a woman fails to qualify, even though she is competent.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW), the United Nations (UN), and the World Health Organization (WHO) have condemned Indonesia for the practice. In November, HRW released a report based on interviews with women who had been forced to undergo these tests, who testified that they were “painful and traumatic.” The test consists of an “obstetrics and gynecology exam,” which includes the “’two-finger test’ to determine whether the female applicants’ hymens are intact.”

WHO condemned Indonesia after HRW released the report and included a section about virginity tests in their handbook.

“The WHO handbook upholds the widely accepted medical view that ‘virginity tests’ are worthless,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, HRW’S women’s rights director. “Health authorities worldwide should end the practice of ‘virginity testing’ in all cases and prohibit health workers from perpetuating this discriminatory and degrading practice.”

Indonesia claims they use to the test to make sure the candidates are “healthy and free of diseases such as cervical cancer.” HRW also reported authorities only told candidates about the test right before the doctor performed it.


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