The Indonesian army has ended its “two-finger” virginity test for female recruits, after they were branded “degrading, discriminatory, and traumatic.”
Andika Perkasa, the Indonesian army chief of staff, told reporters on Tuesday the controversial practice had ceased.
“Previously we looked at the abdomen, genitalia in detail with the examinations of the pelvis, vagina and cervix. Now, we have done away with these examinations, especially with regards to the hymen, whether it has been ruptured and the extent of the rupture,” he said.
He claimed recruitment tests will be focused on health issues such as color blindness, the heart and spine.
“The purpose of the examinations now is more focused on ensuring that the recruit will be able to lead a healthy life and will not encounter any medical issues leading to the loss of life,” he added.
The move was welcomed by human rights groups, who have long campaigned for the test to be scrapped.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) conducted investigations into the practice in 2014, 2015 and 2017, with experts labeling the tests abusive, unscientific and discriminatory
Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher at HRW, said the decision was “the right thing to do,” calling the test “degrading, discriminatory, and traumatic.”
While Andy Yentriyani, head of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan), told Reuters: “There was never any need for the tests.”
The virginity check, which extended to military fiancées, involves someone placing two fingers into the vagina to determine whether or not they’ve had intercourse, due to the state of the hymen.
In 2018 the World Health Organization released a statement on the practice, saying there was “no place” for it as it had no “scientific validity.”
“The appearance of a hymen is not a reliable indication of intercourse and there is no known examination that can prove a history of vaginal intercourse. Furthermore, the practice is a violation of the victim’s human rights and is associated with both immediate and long-term consequences that are detrimental to her physical, psychological and social well-being,” the report stated.
Previously the tests were ordered under the guise of morality, with Indonesian military spokesperson Fuad Basya telling The Guardian in 2015: “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.”
The virginity test was previously scrapped by the Indonesian police force. An Indonesian Navy spokesperson, Julius Widjojono, told Reuters on Wednesday female cadets are subjected to pregnancy tests, but other than that “both men and women undergo the same examinations.”
Indan Gilang, an air force spokesperson, told the outlet that “virginity tests” were not included in their terminology. However female reproduction tests, for cysts and other complications which could hamper their ability to serve, were undertaken.