BY: JESSICA BEUKER
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has recently urged the Indonesian military to abolish what is known as the “two-finger test” or virginity test for its female recruits. The test involves a medical professional checking to see if the hymen is still intact. If it is, a woman is considered a virgin and to have a good mentality. If it isn’t a woman is considered “naughty,” with a poor mentality and is not eligible to join the military. The test is intrusive, carries no scientific reasoning, and is a form of gender-based violence.
Of the tests, Nisha Varia, Women’s Advocacy Director at Human Rights Watch said, “The Indonesian armed forces should recognize that harmful and humiliating ‘virginity tests’ on women recruits do nothing to strengthen national security.”
But the commander of Indonesia’s armed forces disagrees—and defended the practice. According to The Independent, General Moeldoko doesn’t see what the problem is—“It’s a good thing, so why criticize it?” He also added that there was “no other way” to determine the morality of a female.
“We need to examine the mentality of these applicants. If they are no longer virgins, if they are naughty, it means their mentality is not good,” Indonesian military spokesman Fuad Basya told the Guardian. Despite opposition from HRW, they will continue to carry out the test. “To be a military person, the most important thing is your mentality,” Basya said. “Physical and intellectual requirements are secondary.”
The commander of Indonesia’s armed forces doesn’t see what the problem is saying, “It’s a good thing, so why criticize it?” He also added that there was “no other way” to determine the morality of a female
According to the Guardian, this is not the first time that virginity tests have caused controversy in Indonesia. Last year police faced criticism for subjecting their female recruits to the “two-finger test,” where they were forced to strip naked beforehand. In February an Indonesian school district had planned to enforce virginity tests in high schools, where the girls would have to pass one in order to graduate. The plan sparked a huge public outcry and was scrapped.
Many of the women who have gone through these tests describe them as “humiliating,” “tense” and “torture,” according to the Guardian. To make matters worse, the procedure is carried out by a male doctor.
In a letter to the chairman of the International Committee for Military Medicine, Human Rights Watch wrote:
“We interviewed more than a dozen Indonesian military wives and female officers who talked about the physical and psychological trauma of these tests. A doctor who worked at the Army Hospital in Jakarta explained how women are required to strip naked and submit to the “two-finger” test as part of the military medical screening examination.
So-called “virginity tests” have been recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, particularly the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 16 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, both of which Indonesia has ratified. Furthermore, subjecting female applicants to “virginity tests” is discriminatory and has no bearing on their ability to perform their job. We hope that you agree that abusive “virginity tests” have no place in any military organization.”