‘Virginity Tests’ for Female Police Recruits In Indonesia

0

Eight female police applicants in six Indonesian cities who endured the “two finger” test as late as this year have told researchers from the human rights body of the pain and humiliation involved.

The Indonesian government subjects female applicants for Indonesia’s National Police to discriminatory and degrading “virginity tests,” Human Rights Watch said today. Eight female police applicants in six Indonesian cities who endured the “two finger” test as late as this year have told researchers from the human rights body of the pain and humiliation involved.

Police women on duty in Jakarta.

Police women on duty in Jakarta.

Human Rights Watch interviewed female police and police applicants in six Indonesian cities who had undergone the test, two of them in 2014. Applicants who “failed” were not necessarily expelled from the force, but all of the women described the test as painful and traumatic. Policewomen have raised the issue with senior police officials, who have at times claimed the practice has been discontinued. But the test is listed as a requirement for women applicants on the official police recruitment website, and Human Rights Watch interviews suggest it is still being widely applied.

“The Indonesian National Police’s use of ‘virginity tests’ is a discriminatory practice that harms and humiliates women,” said Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “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 tests contravene National Police principles that recruitment must be both “nondiscriminatory” and “humane,” and violate the international human rights to equality, nondiscrimination, and privacy. Coerced “virginity tests” can also constitute cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment prohibited under international law.

Between May and October 2014, Human Rights Watch interviewed eight current and former policewomen and applicants, as well as police doctors, a police recruitment evaluator, a National Police Commission member, and women’s rights activists. Interviews were conducted in the cities of Bandung, Jakarta, Padang, Pekanbaru, Makassar, and Medan. All of the women who had undergone the test said it was applied to all other women in their police class as well.

Indonesia’s predominant religion is Islam, and, even though premarital sex is common, officials and religious leaders still place a high value on female virginity. A South Sumatra school district last year proposed administering a virginity test on its new high school students.

About 3 per cent of Indonesian police officers are female, but the National Police plans to increase this to about 5 per cent with an unprecedented mass recruitment drive, in which 7000 female cadets have undergone a special seven-month training program.

Human Rights Watch