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Female Police Required to be Virgins in Indonesia
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Summary: A recent report shows that many Indonesian police forces perform virginity tests on female recruits, mandating that female policewomen be virgins before they are hired.


According to CNN, if a woman wishes to join the police force in Indonesia, she’s got to pass an unusual test—she must prove that she is a virgin. Married women, therefore, are not allowed to apply to the police force.

How is this test conducted? According to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, a manual examination is performed on the female candidate to check for an intact hymen. Apparently, this examination has long been a part of the health exam that females must undergo to become police officers. The “virginity test” is not part of the mandatory “obstetrics and gynecology” examination that recruits must undertake, however, senior female officers on the force told the writers of the report that the test has been used for some time.

Click here to read about an Indonesian woman who ran a nonprofit business using sex workers.

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In fact, the National Police website includes “virginity” as a health requirement for female police recruits. The site reads, “In addition to the other medical and physical examinations, women who want to become police women are to undergo a virginity test. Policewomen must keep their virginity.” The section concludes with a smiley face.

However, a police spokesperson explained that all recruits, both male and female, must undergo medical testing that included exams of the genitalia. Spokesperson Roni Sompie said, “Overall, the medical and physical examination has two main objectives. The first one is to make sure that the candidates’ health and physical condition will not harm them when admitted into [the] police force. Secondly, it is to make sure that they do not possess any communicable diseases that will not allow them to perform maximally as trained police personnel.”

Here is an article from last year about a human rights attorney being sentenced in Saudi Arabia.

As for the virginity test, Sompie explained, “As to the examination of the virginity, it is just a part of the whole medical and physical test, not intended to solely seek for the virginity condition. Or it cannot be put in a perspective for the sake of finding out the virginity, instead, it is for the sake of the completeness of medical and physical examination.” Somplie added that the HRW report was inconclusive since it did not seek comment from the police’s medical authorities.

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The HRW does not buy the police department’s argument that the exam is simply for thoroughness. The organization stated they interviewed several officers and candidates, and that they did interview police medical and recruitment staff. HRW added that they also spoke with a National Police commission member. Those who had undergone the virginity test said it was “painful” and “traumatic.”

According to the report, the test is administered by Police Medical and Health Center employees in Medan, Makassar, Pekanbaru, Padang, Jakarta, and Bandung. The report calls the test “discriminatory, cruel (and) degrading.”

One recruit recalled her experience: “Entering the virginity test examination room was really upsetting. 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.”

Nisha Varia, the associate women’s rights director at HRW, stated, “The Indonesian National Police’s use of ‘virginity tests’ is a discriminatory practice that harms and humiliates women. 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.”

The HRW is not alone in its findings. Yefri Heriyani, of the Women’s Crisis center in Padang, stated, “Over the last 12 years, we have been visited by many police women complaining about virginity tests conducted by [the] police department, with some of them (saying) they have suffered from trauma having conducted the test, because they felt painful and they felt ashamed of being tested. The trauma lasts even until now. We protest this virginity test, which is now disguised under the name ‘medical and physical examination’…Virginity tests (are) one of the forms of sexual violence, and therefore a human rights violation. We demand an end to this practice.”

Unfortunately, according to the HRW, attempts to get rid of the “archaic” test have repeatedly failed. The HRW’s position is that such tests contradict internationally-agreed upon human rights standards. Other countries, such as Egypt, Afghanistan, and India, have also been noted by the HRW to use such tests in their police departments. The HRW has also protested virginity tests for Indonesian schoolgirls.

Here’s an article from last year about a “virginity auction.”

According to the HRW, the report shows that Indonesian efforts to recruit more women to the police workforce are clearly not working. “So-called virginity tests are discriminatory and a form of gender-based violence—not a measure of women’s eligibility for a career in the police. This pernicious practice not only keeps able women out of the police, but deprives all Indonesians of a police force with the most genuinely qualified officers,” Varia declared.

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