0 Virginity Test For high School Girls, Indonesia
Teenage girls entering high school in one province in Indonesia will be subject to a virginity test, with the head of the district education office saying it’s ‘‘for their own good’’.
H.M. Rasyid, the education office head in South Sumatra’s Prabumulih district, said the district budget for 2014 was set to implement the proposal because ‘‘every woman has the right to virginity’’, and that ‘‘we expect students not to commit negative acts’’.
The test — to be conducted on female students who are typically 15 or 16 and entering the post-compulsory phase of education — would involve examining their hymen to see if they are intact. Boys will neither be physically tested nor asked if they are virgins.
The proposal is like others that periodically arise from officials in Muslim-majority Indonesia, which is modernising fast, to the discomfort of some. They are usually quickly shouted down by civil society and rarely come to fruition.
In March 2012, the religious affairs minister proposed a ban on mini-skirts, saying it was an anti-pornography move; in December, Islamic parties proposed a nationwide ban on alcohol. Neither has been implemented. However, in the district of Lhokseumawe in Aceh, where Islamic law prevails, women have been banned from riding side-saddle on motorcycles because it made ‘‘curves of a woman’s body’’ more visible.
Female virginity at marriage is prized in socially conservative Indonesia, and a member of the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Hasrul Azwar, supported the virginity test in Prabumulih, saying it was ‘‘a disgrace for a student to lose her virginity before getting married’’.
However, the education minister in Jakarta, the members of the local school district, local politicians, the Women’s Crisis Centre and the Islamic advisory council in the area have all opposed the plan.
Masruchah, the deputy head of government organisation the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) said virginity was ‘‘a personal issue’’ and the education office had no right to try to control it.
‘‘Morality cannot be determined by genitals,’’ she said.
Indonesian Education Minister Mohammad Nuh said the idea was ‘‘neither wise nor judicious’’, and would not prevent teen sex.
‘‘If there was proof [that it could prevent it] of course we would issue a circular to that effect. But they must find another way, a wiser way, to address the issue of teen sex,’’ he said.
‘‘Whatever policy they implement, it should not hamper a student’s access to education,’’ said ministry spokesman Ibnu Hamad.
However, in Indonesia, which has radically decentralised power, leaving great influence in the hands of local officials, the central department has limited influence over district education offices.