Female candidates for Indonesia’s National Police force are required to undergo virginity tests before they can become recruits, the international rights group Human Rights Watch reported. The test assesses whether a woman’s hymen is still intact and is performed as part of a full-body health exam. Women who have been subjected to the virginity test said the procedure was traumatic and painful.
"I don't want to remember those bad experiences; it was humiliating," one 19-year-woman who underwent the exam this year told the human rights group. “It is not necessary. I think it should be stopped.”
The requirement is listed on the national police website as a prerequisite for consideration along with general medical and physical examinations, the Guardian noted. Both male and female applicants are required to undergo health screeenings, however "women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity,” a warning on the website reads. Policewomen have raised concerns to senior officials over virginity tests before, but human rights advocates say the decades-old practice is still widespread.
HRW called the practice “discriminatory” and called on authorities to stop checking female recruits for virginity. “Police authorities in Jakarta need to immediately and unequivocally abolish the test, and then make certain that all police recruiting stations nationwide stop administering it,” Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.
About 3 percent of Indonesia’s 400,000-person police force – or about 12,000 members – are women. There are currently about 7,000 women undergoing training to join national police, according to Mail Online.
While women who “failed” the virginity test were not immediately dismissed from recruitment, the practice was described as “upsetting.” One woman interviewed by the human rights group said her friend fainted because “it really hurt, really hurt.”
In addition to being virgins, female candidates must be between the ages of 17-and-a-half and 22, be at least 5 feet, 5 inches tall, follow a recognized religion, and have good eyesight. Also, females must be single and not marry until several years after entering the force.