By SHAUNA ANDERSON
Female police recruits in Indonesia are being subjected to a degrading and traumatising “virginity test” a human rights group has found.
The practice, which contravenes international human rights policy has been exposed by the group Human Rights Watch.
Female recruits are subjected to a two-fingered virginity test.
The test is listed publicly on the national police web site as a requirement to enter the force.
The website states “In addition to the medical and physical tests, women who want to be policewomen must also undergo virginity tests. So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity.”
Human Rights Watch says that it is performed as part of the chief of police’s health inspection guidelines for new candidates, which requires women to complete an “obstetrics and gynecology” exam.
But the women forced to undergo the test said it was humiliating.
A 24-year old police recruit:
“Even just entering the room was very scary because we had to undress while there were 20 people in the room. We didn’t know each other. Entering the virginity test examination room was really upsetting. I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore. They inserted two fingers. It really hurt. My friend even fainted because … it really hurt, really hurt.”
Another woman aged just 19-years old:
“I did the health test in a hall at the State Police School (Sekolah Polisi Negara) building. They put up a curtain so that outsiders could not look inside. My group of about 20 girls was asked to enter the hall and was asked to take off our clothes, including our bras and underpants. It was humiliating. Only those who had menstruation can keep [wearing] underpants. Our group was the last one that day. The medical staff was probably already exhausted. … We’re asked to sit on a table for women giving birth. A female doctor did the virginity test … the “two-finger” test. I was not nervous. I am confident that I am still a virgin. When the virginity test ended, we were asked to put on our clothes.”
The women who did not pass the test were not necessarily prevented from becoming police officers, though female recruits are expected to be single and not marry until they have been in the force for a few years.
According to Human Rights Watch 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 all confirmed the practice still took place.
HRW say the test is given early in the recruitment process as part of the applicants’ physical exam.