Abusive virginity tests in Indonesia

Needless to say, women and men should be equal in the 21st century. There are, however, still cases women are made less highly of than men. Sometimes they are treated inhumanely because of their sex. A lot of men try to find out how to tell if a woman is a virgin. Despite the fact that her answer is the only way to know, there are still a lot of cultures that believe you can tell if a woman is a virgin. One myth is that if a woman’s hymen is intact she is still a virgin. The hymen is a thin mucous membrane of skin that surrounds or partially covers the opening to the vagina. During sexual intercourse the hymen can sometimes break and tear, causing some pain and light bleeding, but many women do not have this happen at all. The hymen can also break through a lot of other means, such as vigorous sports like bike riding or gymnastics, using tampons, or through growth and development of her body. Some women never have their hymen break at all. The guidelines issued by WHO in 2014 deny scientific validity of virginity tests.

Indonesia is one of the countries that try to see if their women are virgins. All branches of the Indonesian military have been using virginity tests, or so-called two finger testing, to see if the applicants are virgins. Virginity is one of the requirements for female applicants, which is not the case for male applicants.

Human Rights Watch first exposed the use of virginity tests by Indonesian security forces in 2014 and they have not taken a step to prevent the practice. They justify the testing saying it is to see if female applicants are pregnant, which does not make sense. Fuad Basya, an Indonesian military spokesperson, states that “If they are no longer virgins, if they are naughty, it means their mentality is not good.”

The women interviewed described the tests as painful, embarrassing, and traumatic. In International legal frameworks, virginity testing is regarded as a inhumane treatment that amounts to torture, which means Indonesia violates International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) article 7 (the prohibition of cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatments) and the Convention against torture, both of which the country has ratified and has an obligation to observe.

It is not rare that women are paid less than men for the same work because they are expected to do less. Most people today, however, know the idea is old-fashioned. We have international women’s day on March 8th. It is 2018. Let us raise our voice and change the world.


Indonesia: Medical Groups silent on Abusive ‘Virginity Tests’, Human Rights Watch, March 7, 2018, https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/03/07/indonesia-medical-groups-silent-abusive-virginity-tests, accessed on March 7, 2018



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