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Indonesia

Indonesian army ends 'virginity tests' for female recruits

Other branches of the armed forces are also set to end the 'degrading' practice

Indonesian army ends 'virginity tests' for female recruits

Female recruits in the Indonesian armed forces and police have been subjected to so-called 'virginity tests' for years. (Photo: Ryan Dagur)

The Indonesian army says it has ended the controversial practice of conducting so-called "virginity tests" on female recruits.

The move followed discussions in May about changes to the recruitment process, including medical examinations for both male and female applicants, army chief General Andika Perkasas said on Aug. 10.

Known as the two-finger test, it involved the invasive practice of inserting two fingers into the vagina to check whether the hymen was still intact. Those declared not a virgin were rejected.

“There were vaginal and cervical examinations. But we no longer carry them out. The hymen was also examined as to whether it was still intact or not. Now there is no such examination,” the general said.

General Andika told army commanders in July that medical examinations for female recruits should be similar to those for male applicants and that all applicants should only be assessed on their ability to take part in physical training.

Rights groups welcomed the move, saying the test was discriminatory and degrading.

The so-called virginity test was unscientific, degrading, abusive and traumatic

Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher for Human Rights Watch, which has campaigned for years for the practice to end, said other branches of the armed forces have pledged to follow suit.

“The spokesmen of the navy and air force have said these services are also stopping the abusive practice,” Harsono said.

He said the greatest enemy of knowledge “is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

“Many military officers in Indonesia, and they are all men, have that illusion of knowledge. The so-called virginity test was unscientific, degrading, abusive and traumatic. It was not their ignorance that let this practice be carried out for more than five decades but their illusion of knowledge,” he said.

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