Virginity testing is a form of gender-based violence and is a widely discredited practice. In November 2014, the World Health Organization issued guidelines that stated, “There is no place for virginity (or ‘two-finger’) testing; it has no scientific validity.”
Indonesia’s coordinating minister for politics, law, and security, Tedjo Edhi, acknowledged that the military requires the tests on November 18, 2014, the day that Human Rights Watch issued a report about “virginity testing” for female National Police candidates. Maj. Gen. Fuad Basya, the armed forces spokesman, said that the Indonesian military has conducted “virginity testing” on female recruits for even longer than the police, without specifying when the practice began. Human Rights Watch research found that all branches of the military – air force, army, and navy – have used the test for decades and also extended the requirement to the fiancées of military officers.
It kind of makes you wish the whole childbearing thing could be shifted to factories instead of human women’s bodies, so that women and men could relate to each other without anyone worrying about whose sperm is/might be inside which woman.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 11 women – military recruits and fiancées of military officers – who had undergone the test at military hospitals in Bandung, Jakarta, or Surabaya; a female officer at the military health center; and a doctor who worked in a military hospital in Jakarta. Applicants and fiancées who were deemed to have “failed” were not necessarily penalized, but all of the women described the test as painful, embarrassing, and traumatic.
All of the women interviewed told Human Rights Watch that it was required of all other women applying to enter the military or planning to marry military officers. They said that the only women excluded were those with “powerful connections” or who bribed the military doctors who administered the tests. Human Rights Watch found that the testing included the invasive “two-finger test” to determine whether female applicants’ hymens are intact. Finger test findings are scientifically baseless because an “old tear” of the hymen or variation of the “size” of the hymenal orifice can be due to reasons unrelated to sex.
Plus there’s the fact that a soldier’s virginity or non-virginity really has nothing to do with being a soldier.
Indonesia’s National Police responded to the Human Rights Watch exposure of police use of “virginity testing” by supporting the practice. A senior police official, Inspector General Moechgiyarto, on November 18 confirmed the requirement, defending it as a means of ensuring “high moral standards.” He suggested to the media that those failing the test were prostitutes.
Again the reduction of morality to more or less sexual activity.
Human Rights Watch has advocated ending “virginity testing” in other countries, including Egypt, India, and Afghanistan. These procedures have been recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, particularly 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, both of which Indonesia has ratified.
But if you think morality boils down to policing women’s access points, well, never mind your pesky conventions against torture then. Safety first.
Indonesian Women Speak Out on “Virginity Testing” in the Indonesian Armed Forces:
I initially learned from other physicians performing the “virginity test” in our hospital. 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.
—A female physician in a military hospital in Jakarta
On the one hand women must be fiercely policed so that they don’t allow random people to have access to their Significant Orifice, on the other hand women must let some stranger check their Significant Orifice for evidence of random people having access. You just can’t win.