Women wanting to become police officers in Indonesia are reported to have to undergo an invasive “two-finger” virginity test and be “pretty” as a part of the recruitment process.
The tests are not recorded as an official requirement but it is still conducted under the guise of a “morality or physical examination”
Andreas Harsono from the Human Rights Watch said Indonesian police believe that society will not accept a female police officer who has an active sex life or used to be a sex worker.
“The logic is that they only want good girls to be police officers,” he said.
The test is conducted to see if the woman’s hymen is still intact using a method which has long been criticised as invasive while also not being able to accurately determine a woman’s virginity either.
Indonesian woman Zakia — whose last name is not included to protect her identity — told Human Rights Watch in a complaint obtained by the ABC that she had failed her test when she applied to become a police officer.
Zakia claimed the virginity test she was subjected to was not conducted by a medical doctor. “It was extremely painful,” she said.
“Every time I remember what happened, I cry … I feel like I don’t want to live anymore.” Zakia was a martial arts athlete who said that over the years she has had to do splits and other exercises which may have ripped her hymen.
Zakia said she was intimidated by the officers to “come clean” and insisted she was a virgin — she did not get accepted to the second round of the selection process.
Virginity testing is not anymore officially allowed in Indonesia because of international pressure from human rights groups. However, a study published by the Auckland University of Technology found that vaginal examinations are still a key part of police recruitment in Indonesia.
Anisha, a 27-year-old policewoman said she believes the testings should continue.
“The test shows that we as women can protect ourselves and therefore, we are capable of protecting other people,” she said.
Mr Harsono claims that the practice is also rife in the Indonesian military, where he said some 70 per cent of the medical staff who conduct the tests are male doctors.
“Many military generals believe that the hymen is like a clock, if the hymen is torn between 11:00am to 2:00pm it’s mostly because of physical activities … but if the hymen is torn at 6:00pm it means the woman has sexual life,” Mr Harsono said, detailing the unscientific mentality and justifications often given after the procedure. “We consider these as cases of sexual violence.” The justification given for the tests is to ensure that only women who are morally fit join the police and the military.
Senior members of the Indonesian police force as well as Government officials have been contacted for comment but did not provide a response.