The Indonesian army is abandoning its “twiddling” technique on women who want to join the army.
It might sound a bit dystopian, but in Indonesia, if you are a woman who wants to join the police or military force, you must go through a “rigorous” virginity test that includes a person fingering your vagina to check for your hymen’s integrity. Yep, you heard that right.
This extremely sophisticated “technique” has been going on since 1965, and despite its international condemnation, Indonesia didn’t budge. However, now in August 2021, things are starting to turn out a bit more optimistic as general Andika Perkas, Chief of Staff of the Indonesian Army, has officially announced that this practice would no longer take place.
Is virginity finger-testing finally over?
Though, you might think this is the end of it, there is still a finger out there stalking you, as the ban on the virginity test might be only temporary, because it’s a tradition that dies hard. In order to grasp the full extent of Indonesia’s reality on this issue, you must first check out these facts:
- The majority (87%) of Indonesians are Muslim. Therefore, the virginity of a woman is quite important for the community;
- Several attempts have been made to introduce virginity tests in schools too;
- A female’s purity is deemed to be important for sports too, as in 2019 East Java was disqualified from competing in the Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines due to rumors surrounding her “impurity;”
- Other professional fields are still in danger of the mandatory virginity test.
- Generally, the officials are very supportive of the practice as they believe this will reflect the morality of the community in those particular jobs, and it will eliminate the danger of those women becoming prostitutes.
As you can see, Indonesia is rigid when it comes to morality and, consequently, female virginity. There have been multiple protests, more media coverage, and international condemnation of this practice. However, so far, not much progress has been made. Even the WHO and UN Human Rights Office couldn’t do anything. The oxymoron here is that Indonesia itself has human rights protection laws that oppose discrimination against women, but with no effect in real life.
What does the future hold for Indonesian women?
As mentioned earlier, change will come, but gradually. Some “small” battles have been won from intense protesting, but nothing significant. The problem isn’t only in Indonesia. Virginity tests are predominant in multiple Asian countries, and they’ve been there for many decades. As difficult as things may appear, we hope that women will be able to eventually fight back with the rest of the world’s support.
Do you condemn or support this practice, and why?
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