Female recruits hoping to join Indonesia’s police force are forced to undergo two-finger “virginity tests”, a rights group has found, a practice that leaves the women traumatised, humiliated and in pain.
The test is listed publicly as a requirement to enter the force and performed as part of the chief of police’s health inspection guidelines for new candidates, which requires women to complete an “obstetrics and gynaecology” exam.
While female recruits are also expected to be single and not marry until they have been in the force for a few years, Indonesia’s national police website claims they must also undergo virginity tests in addition to general medical and physical examinations, with the added warning: “So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity.”
The practice contravenes Indonesia’s national police principles as well as international human rights policy, says Human Rights Watch (HRW), which interviewed female police recruits and serving female officers across six cities.
While women who “failed” the test were not necessarily prevented from entering the force, all of those interviewed said the examination was painful and traumatic and described the practice as widespread.
“Entering the virginity test examination room was really upsetting,” one interviewee said. “I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore. They inserted two fingers with gel … it really hurt. My friend even fainted.”
Although women often complain to their superiors about the exam – which measures whether a woman’s hymen is still intact – and a former head of police personnel agreed to abolish the test in 2010, it continues to be practised in the same way it has for decades, interviewees said. One retired officer said her entire 1965 recruitment class had to endure the two-finger exam.
“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,” said Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “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.”
HRW’s research into the practice follows a recruitment drive to hire 50% more females into the national police force by December, boosting the proportion of female officers to 5% of the 400,000-member force…. see more
source: Guardian UK