Not OK: In Indonesia, female police recruits are subjected to a “virginity” test

In order for a woman to join the national police force in Indonesia, she has to undergo a physical that includes a “virginity test.”

The nonprofit Human Rights Watch pointed out the procedure in a new report. HRW interviewed female police and applicants, who all confirmed that they had undergone the test.

“All of the women described the test as painful and traumatic,” the report read. “Policewomen have raised the issue with senior police officials, who have at times claimed the practice has been discontinued. But the test is listed as a requirement for women applicants on the official police recruitment website.”

And, of course, “virginity tests” aren’t scientific so much as subjective. The humiliating process, sometimes disguised as part of a routine physical, is just a way to systematically discriminate against women. (Married women are not allowed to apply to serve as police officers.)

“The Indonesian National Police’s use of ‘virginity tests’ is a discriminatory practice that harms and humiliates women,” Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

“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,” Varia continued. “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.”
(Image via Hotli Simanjuntak /EPA /LANDOV)