The “two-finger” virginity test is being required for female recruits and fiancées of military officers in the Indonesian armed forces, Human Rights Watch has found. Female military recruits are required to undergo the virginity test to preserve the dignity and honor of the nation, according to military officers. As for the fiancées, the virginity test help secure the military families and the husband and wife’s relationship even if the husbands are deployed for months.
Human Rights Watch has found that all branches of the Indonesian military conduct the virginity test. The Indonesian air force, army and navy have been conducting the tests for years now.
‘Two-finger’ virginity test is torture
A doctor who has spoken with the Human Rights Watch on condition of anonymity said the tests are being held in military hospitals, with the woman being tested en masse in large halls only divided by curtains.
“The women were positioned like women giving birth. In 2008, I administered the test myself. Those young women were totally unwilling to be positioned in such an opened position. It took an effort to make them willing to [undergo the virginity test]. It was not [just] a humiliating act anymore. It was a torture. I decided not to do it again,” the doctor said.
All the women described the experience as painful, embarrassing and traumatic.
One female military academy applicant said she was shocked to find out that the doctor who was to perform the “two-finger” virginity test was a man.
“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,” the woman told Human Rights Watch.
“It’s humiliating. I personally agree that we have to stop the test. But I am just a major. Who will listen to a female major in the navy?” another female military said.
A military wife who has undergone the test prior to being married to her military fiancé said she was relieved to pass the test. But the experience was still embarrassing.
“I passed the test and we got married. It was embarrassing, but who I am to oppose it? Military men often travel away from home. They should trust their wives,” she said.
Another military wife described the experience as traumatizing.
“Four years after I took the test, I married my fiancé. Like most normal newlyweds, we took a honeymoon in Bali and we wanted to make love. But my body was so stiff. I cannot open my legs. I cried the whole night. We could only have sex [for the first time] two months later. It was because of the trauma that I had with that ‘virginity test,’” she said.
Abolish “two-finger” virginity test
The Human Rights Watch is now calling for Indonesian officials to stop the test.
“Virginity tests” have long been recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, Brad Adams, Asia Division Director for Human Rights Watch, wrote in his letter to major General Muhammad Al-Malik, Chairman of the International Committee for Military medicine.
The virginity test violates the prohibition against cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 16 of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or degrading treatment or Punishment, Adams wrote. The World Health Organization has also said that there is no place for virginity or two-finger testing for it has no scientific validity, Adams stated.
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