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Indonesian Army Will No Longer Conduct Invasive ‘Virginity Tests’ On Female Cadets

by : Poppy Bilderbeck on : 12 Aug 2021 16:06
Indonesian Army Will No Longer Conduct Invasion Virginity Tests On Female CadetsPA Images

The Indonesian Army has said they will no longer conduct invasive ‘virginity tests’ on female cadets in an announcement made by the army’s chief of staff.

The so-called ‘virginity tests’ were determined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as having ‘no scientific merit or clinical indication’.

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Indonesia: Celebrate to Mark the 74th Anniversary of The Indonesian Military in Palu, Central Sulawesi - INA Photo Agency/SIPA USA/PA ImagesPA Images

The tests – which apparently assessed whether or not they have had sex – involved having someone place their fingers into a female cadet’s vagina.

Last week, Human Rights Watch confirmed the police have ended the use of the exams, but that the government has not ended the practice from occurring within the military.

The ‘virginity tests’ carried out by the Indonesian forces were first exposed by Human Rights Watch in 2014.

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The organisation has condemned the tests as ‘abusive, unscientific and discriminatory’, calling the tests an act of gender violence.

The Indonesian’s Army Chief of Staff, Andika Perkasa, told reporters on Wednesday that the army needs to ‘continuously improve every year’, when questioned in relation to its recruitment process.

Perkasa said: 

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Previously we looked at the abdomen, genitalia in detail with the examinations of the pelvis, vagina and cervix.

Now, we have done away with these examinations, especially with regards to the hymen, whether it has been ruptured and the extent of the rupture.

Perkasa went on to say that the military is now trying to place more of an emphasis on testing for heart, spinal and colour blindness issues.

Perkasa said the purpose of the examinations at present are more focused on recruits being ‘able to lead a healthy life’, and to make sure they do not ‘encounter any medical issues leading to the loss of life’.

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A spokesperson for the Indonesian Air Force, Indan Gilang, told Reuters that ‘virginity tests’ are not a part of the force’s terminology, adding the female reproduction test is issued by the military to check for any issue which could affect the ability of the female cadets to serve.

Humans Rights Watch has claimed ‘dozens of women’ have spoken to them about the practice – women who were allegedly forced to take the ‘virginity test’ due to marrying into military families.

In 2014, over several months, the organisation investigated the regulated practice in Indonesia’s police force, speaking to eight policewomen, police doctors and several others.

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While female police cadets were not required to undergo the ‘virginity test’ as part of the obstetrics and gynaecology exam, two senior policewomen told Human Rights Watch it was a long-standing practice as part of the physical exam.

In 2015, Human Rights Watch released the results of its investigation into the military, revealing that all of the 11 women they spoke to, including cadets, other military members and a doctor, described the required exam as traumatic and painful.

One woman who had to endure a ‘virginity test’ in 2008 said how it was ‘really upsetting’ and that she ‘feared’ she would not be a virgin anymore after having the invasive test. She commented that it ‘really hurt’ and that her friend ‘even fainted because…it really hurt, really hurt.’

The WHO released a statement in 2018, about the harms of ‘virginity testing’, saying the exam was not supported by scientific evidence, as there is ‘no known examination that can prove a history of vaginal intercourse’. They went on to call it a ‘violation of victim’s human rights’ with ‘both immediate and long-term consequences […] detrimental to her physical, psychological and social well-being’.

According to the WHO, ‘virginity testing’ is a ‘long-standing practice’ in not just Indonesia, but Afghanistan, Brazil, South Africa and Northern Ireland.

If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this story, you can speak in confidence about where to get help from Mind free on 0300 123 3393, 9am–6pm Monday to Friday.

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    Indonesian army ends "virginity tests" on female cadets: "Abusive, unscientific and discriminatory"