Female Military Recruits Endure 'Degrading' 'Virginity Tests' in Indonesia, Rights Group Says

Some women in Indonesia who aspire to join the police or military forces there must first submit to what Human Rights Watch described as "degrading and discriminatory" so-called "virginity tests," HRW reported today.

According to HRW, "the testing includes the invasive 'two-finger test' to determine whether female applicants' hymens are intact, findings that are scientifically baseless."

HRW first reported on the virginity tests in 2014. Then and since, the group has spoken to women who said that while they're not necessarily penalized for "failing" the test, they said the experience was painful, embarrassing and traumatic.

“The Indonesian government’s continuing tolerance for 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 2016, the practice warranted a brief mention in the U.S. State Department's country-by-country Human Rights Report.

In 2015 a top Indonesia military commander reportedly told local journalists the virginity tests were a "good thing" and helped gauge a woman's morality.

"There is no other way," he said then.

HRW called on Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to order the national police chief and military commander to ban the tests.

A spokesperson for police forces told The Associated Press they already ended the practice three years ago. The military did not respond to the AP's request for comment. HRW said it has also discovered the practice in Egypt, Afghanistan and India.

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