Sex or school? E. Java lawmakers aim to forbid graduation for non-virgins

Reuters/Enny Nuraheni
The city council of Jember, East Java's third largest urban area with a population of 300,000, plans to give a virginity test to schoolgirls, local media reported. Those who fail won't have a chance to become high school graduates.

The city council insists on the regulation on the grounds that a number of secondary and high school students allegedly indulge in pre-marital sexual activities. According to the data gathered from local hospitals, around 10 percent of Jember’s approximately 1,200 HIV/AIDS patients are students.

“What surprises us the most is they have had sex several times and with different partners,”
Habib Isa Mahdi, a lawmaker from the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura), told Detik.com on Friday, according to the Jakarta Globe. “Moreover, the Ministry of Social Affairs said that Indonesia is in an emergency situation against pornography — that’s what drives us to make such regulation,” he added.

A lawmaker from the National Awakening Party (PKB), Mufti Ali, told East Java news portal BeritaJatim.com he wanted to expand the proposal beyond Jember for it to become a provincial law.

“If they’re not virgins anymore, don’t let them pass,” he said. “It may sound like a joke, but it’s serious. It’s for the sake of the future.

“I agree that virginity should become a [requirement] for graduation. I will tell my friends to make it a regional regulation. We can’t only rely on their conscience to behave well. There should also be pressure. If they’re pushed [to behave well], that bad behavior can improve.”

Photo from wikipedia.org

The second-largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, the Jember Chapter of Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), has opposed the proposal.

“Virginity is very sensitive. If a female student cannot meet the requirement, she’ll be the subject of gossip in society,”
MN Harisuddin, Jember’s policy chief for NU, said on Thursday on the organization’s official website.

“Say the bill is passed, the test would be simple to conduct, but why is it only done for the female students? How about the boys?” he wondered.

The lawmaker Mufti Ali brushed away allegations of the regulation’s sexism.

“We can’t test the boys,” he told the East Java news portal. “But at least with the regulation, girls will be afraid [to have pre-marital sex]. The boys will be prevented from the act because girls will become unwilling. This will scare them, that if they [have sex], they will not graduate.”

Mufti said that victims of rape facing the test won't have to be concerned about the results. “The medical team will be able to tell [if they have been the victim of a sexual assault],” he noted.


READ MORE: Indonesia to ban virginity tests for female civil servants…except police

Indonesia’s police often use virginity tests as a pre-condition for employing its female officers. The police force in Indonesia enforces strict requirements for women, who account for only 3 percent of the 400,000 police officers in Indonesia.

In November, Human Rights Watch issued a scathing report saying that female recruits hoping to join the police force were still being subjected to the “degrading” ‘two-finger’ test. Many of the women were made aware of the tests only moments before it was conducted. Following widespread criticism, local authorities said in December they planned to ban virginity tests for female civil servants.