Indonesian women forced to undergo “two-finger” test before enrolling in military

Female applicants to the Indonesian military must pass a "two-finger" virginity test, a practice that has drawn condemnation from human rights groups. Photo: AP

Indonesian women that plan on joining the military or police, or geting married to a military officer, are required to undergo a “two-finger” virginity test.

According to Human Rights Watch, the law, which has been around for decades, requires women to let doctors examine them to see if their hymen is still intact.

The World Health Organization believes there is no scientific validity to these tests, so there is no reason for them to be performed.

The New York Daily News reports that this continues to be standard practice for those trying to enlist in the military or law enforcement. According to Indonesian officials, the practice is used to defend the “moral honor” of those who serve the country.

“When confronted about the practice, military and police officials said they wanted to make sure that ‘sex workers’ could not become police officers or military members, which is pretty much the most ridiculous explanation I’ve heard for a policy, ever,” said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.

Sifton also said, “The fact that if you had lost your virginity, that somehow meant that you were a sex worker, not to mention that there isn’t anything wrong with a former sex worker being a police officer, is absurd.”

According to Major Gen. Fuad Basya of the Indonesian military, the practice is based on a matter of national security. If a potential military member lost her virginity out of wedlock, her mental state would make her unfit to serve.

Sifton said he spoke to Indonesian military and police officials who not only approved of the test, they also told him that they would perform the same test on men if it were possible.

“It’s painful, degrading and traumatizing to some recruits, and a lot of women find it deeply insulting that they have to undergo this test,” Sifton said.

The practice first made headlines in May and recently resurfaced due to Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s visit to the White House on Monday.

Before the meeting with President Widodo, advocates asked President Obama to address the concern as well as other human rights issues with the Indonesian president when they met.

However, the White House announced that the discussion between the two leaders would focus on topics like trade, climate and defense cooperation, without any mention of the human rights issues plaguing the country.

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