Human Rights Watch (HRW) says virginity tests have been recognized internationally as a violation of human rights. The procedure particularly 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, both of which Indonesia has ratified.“The Indonesian armed forces should immediately stop the discriminatory, arbitrary and gender-based violence of so-called virginity tests,” HRW’s women’s rights advocacy director Nisha Varia said in a release on Thursday.
She made the statement ahead of the world conference of the International Committee on Military Medicine (ICMM), a Belgium-based intergovernmental organization dedicated to fostering professional collaboration between members of the Armed Forces Medical Services of all states, which is set to take place in Bali from May 17 to 22.“The ICMM should make clear to the Indonesian Military that this abusive practice has no place in a job application process or an individual’s choice of whom to marry and should not be inflicted under a veneer of ‘military medicine’,” Varia said.
HRW found that the testing required all women applying to enter the military or planning to marry military officers included invasive “two-finger tests” to determine whether female applicants’ hymens were 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,” it says.HRW says a military doctor at a military hospital in Jakarta told the group that the test was part of the mandatory military exam. It is given early in the recruitment process as part of a applicants’ physical exam.
Officers who wish to marry require a letter of recommendation from their commanders, who only issue such letters upon confirmation that the respective officer’s fiancée has undergone a medical examination, including a virginity test, at a military hospital.Female military recruits said that military officers informed them that the tests were crucial to preserving the dignity and the honor of the nation, HRW says.”
A retired Air Force officer wondered how she could ‘defend the honor of our nation if we cannot defend our own honor’ by undergoing virginity tests,” it says.“Two military wives said that they were told that virginity tests helped stabilize military families, in which the husbands often travel for months.”HRW notes that in December last year, Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo announced that his ministry would stop administering virginity tests to women aspiring to be civil servants.
In a hearing at the House of Representatives on Jan.21, Health Minister Nila Moeloek promised to raise the issue at a Cabinet meeting. (ebf) - See more at: http://www.thejakartapost