Indonesia still performs ‘virginity tests’ on female police job applicants - HRW

Indonesia still performs ‘virginity tests’ on female police job applicants - HRW
Indonesia’s practice of subjecting would-be female police officers to ‘virginity tests’ is “discriminatory and a form of gender-based violence,” that has to be stopped, Human Rights Watch says.

Police authorities in Jakarta need to immediately and unequivocally abolish the test, and then make certain that all police recruiting stations nationwide stop administering it,” Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement released on Tuesday.

The watchdog interviewed female police officers in six Indonesian cities to find out if women applying for a job in law enforcement still have to undergo virginity tests, despite previous promises by police officials to abolish the practice.

The video with the interviews is now posted on the Human Rights Watchdog official YouTube feed. The women, hiding their faces from cameras and concealing their names, say they had to go through the pain and humiliation of the ‘two-finger test’, which HRW describes as an archaic and discredited practice.

Entering the virginity test examination room was really upsetting,” one 24-year-old woman recalls. “I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore. It really hurt. My friend even fainted because ... it really hurt, really hurt.”

The requirement for undergoing the test is posted on Indonesia national police’s official website.

"In addition to the medical and physical tests, women who want to be policewomen [sic] must also undergo virginity tests,” it reads. “So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity."


Indonesian police spokesman Maj. Gen. Ronny Sompie urged people not "respond negatively" to the tests, explaining that they are done to ensure the applicants do not have sexually-transmitted diseases, AP reported.

"All of this is done in a professional manner and did not harm the applicants," Sompie said.

Testimonies recorded by the HRW, however, indicate the opposite.

I don’t want to remember those bad experiences,” a 19-year-old woman said. “It was humiliating. Why should we take off our clothes in front of strangers? Yes, [the virginity testers] were women, but they were total strangers. It was discriminatory. It is not necessary. I think it should be stopped.

Currently women account for only 3 percent of 400,000 police officers in Indonesia. The National Police force plans a massive increase in the number of policewomen, though. By December there are expected to be 21,000 female police officers, or 5 percent of the total police force.

Human Rights Watch has also documented the practice of virginity tests for policewomen in other countries including Egypt, India and Afghanistan.

Last year, some education officials in Indonesia proposed that virginity tests be introduced for teenage schoolgirls, causing an uproar.