Female police recruits undergo virginity tests

Young female police recruits in Indonesia start their careers with what's called the "two-finger test" to assess if they are virgins.

Indonesia's new women officers are required to be single and virginal, but the digital penetration test the police medical officers use as part of their physical examination leaves them feeling traumatised and humiliated, according to interviews conducted recently by Human Rights Watch.

In 2010, the then-head of police personnel, Brigadier General Sigit Sudarmanto, announced that the invasive testing procedure would stop. But still the National Police job recruitment website confirms that: "In addition to the medical and physical tests, women who want to be policewomen must also undergo virginity tests".

Eight female police applicants in six Indonesian cities who endured the "two finger" test as late as this year have told researchers from the human rights body of the pain and humiliation involved. 


One young applicant, who was 18 when she was tested in Bandung, near Jakarta, in 2013, said she had learned about the test "only when I was about to take the physical examination".

"[They told us] we could resign from the selection process if we did not want to go through with it, but most of us had gone through so much preparation already, and I felt I had no power to object.

"Twenty female applicants were told to enter a hall … we were then told to go into a room and lie down. The medical staffer, a female, then carried out the 'two-finger' test. I was humiliated and scared … There were candidates who fainted due to the stress."

Another recruit was 19 when she took the test with 20 others in Pekanbaru, Sumatra, in 2014.

"We were asked to take off our clothes, including our bras and underpants. It was humiliating. Only those who were menstruating could keep their underpants on. We were asked to sit on a table for women giving birth. A female doctor did the virginity test ... the 'two-finger' test … It was humiliating."

The test is a discredited procedure that purports to assess whether a woman's hymen is intact.

A director of women's rights group Nurani Perempuan, Yefri Heriyani, is quoted in the report saying the test had left many police women traumatised.

"It will affect their lives in the long term. Many of them blame themselves," she said.

A former police psychologist, Sri Rumiati, said she had objected to the testing in 2010, but her colleagues had replied: "Do we want to have prostitutes joining the police?" 

A police spokesman told Fairfax Media that both new male and female recruits were required to be unmarried because they had to "change their character from civilian to semi-military mindset". They can marry after two years in the force.

But it is only women's virginity that is tested.

Nisha Varia, the associate women's rights director at Human Rights Watch, said the Indonesian National Police's use of virginity tests was "a discriminatory practice that harms and humiliates women".

"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."

Indonesia's predominant religion is Islam, and, even though premarital sex is common, officials and religious leaders still place a high value on female virginity. A South Sumatra school district last year proposed administering a virginity test on its new high school students. 

About 3 per cent of Indonesian police officers are female, but the National Police plans to increase this to about 5 per cent with an unprecedented mass recruitment drive, in which 7000 female cadets have undergone a special seven-month training program.


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