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Human Rights Watch: End virginity tests for female military recruits in Indonesia

By
Danielle Haynes

JAKARTA, May 14 (UPI) -- Female military recruits and the fiancees of military officers in Indonesia should not have to undergo "harmful and humiliating" virginity tests, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The advocacy group called on international military physicians convening in Bali next week to urge Indonesian President Joko Widodo to end the practice, which it calls discriminatory.

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"The Indonesian armed forces should recognize that harmful and humiliating 'virginity tests' on women recruits does nothing to strengthen national security," said Nisha Varia, HRW women's rights advocacy director. "President Joko Widodo should set the military straight and immediately abolish the requirement and prevent all military hospitals from administering it."

For decades, Indonesia has required female military recruits and the future wives of male military officers to undergo the so-called "two-finger" virginity test as part of an overall medical evaluation. The test is used to determine if a woman's hymen is intact, though the HRW says the test is scientifically baseless because a hymen can be torn due to reasons unrelated to sex.

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Female soldiers and military officers' wives interviewed by the HRW called the process humiliating.

"What shocked me was finding out that the doctor who was to perform the test was a man," said one recruit who underwent a virginity test in 2013. "I had mixed feelings. I felt humiliated. It was very tense. It's all mixed up. I hope the future medical examination excludes virginity test. It's against the rights of every woman."

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The International Committee of Military Medicine, a Belgium-based intergovernmental organization, convenes Sunday through May 22 in Bali.

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