Indonesia Must Block Virginity Tests for School Girls

Students wait for a ride on commuter buses in Jakarta. ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images

As reports surfaced last week of a Indonesian high school forcing their female students to take pregnancy tests and other efforts to institute virginity tests for girls, we’re getting concerned about the effect this will have on women’s rights throughout the region.

The head of a vocational high school in Magetan, East Java, has forced his female students to undergo pregnancy tests as part of their eligibility to study. The headmaster plans to carry out this testing annually, as part of the admissions process. The Indonesian government has as yet done nothing to stop him – in fact, in September a legislator in Sumatra tried to introduce compulsory virginity tests for all female students.

We’re worried that these tests are not only extremely intrusive and degrading for girls at a sensitive age in their development, but also plainly discriminatory: the boys in the high school won’t be subjected to any equivalent form of ‘moral’ testing.

Indonesia, where Barack Obama paid his first-ever visit as President last week, has a patchy record on women’s rights, even the most basic ones –  we saw last week how it often fails to provide women with adequate medical facilities at childbirth. Previously, the Indonesian government has enacted legislation that denies Indonesian women who become pregnant outside marriage full access to maternal care and reproductive health. This is on top of the cultural sensitivity in the region which regularly works to ostracize women who become pregnant out of wedlock.

We’ve already seen Indonesia create laws that violate the individual’s sexual and privacy rights – consensual sex between adults is criminalized, and unmarried adult men and women who are alone together are often punished (under shariah law this crime of ‘Khalwat’ is punished particularly harshly).

We know that gender stereotyped views on sexuality mean that women are particularly vulnerable to these restrictions, especially because they can become pregnant. This leaves them open to health issues, and pregnant girls are sometimes forced to marry young or drop out of school (plainly violating their human rights). Worst of all, pregnancy outside marriage can be interpreted as proof of a crime.

It’s difficult to see how the forward-looking Indonesian government, which wants so desperately to engage with the modern world and reap the rewards of its economic growth, can let these kinds of discriminatory practices go ahead unchecked.

Join us by calling on Indonesia to ban pregnancy testing for schoolgirls and protect labor rights. The government must to work with its citizens to guarantee access to adequate healthcare for all women, free from the threats of discrimination and criminalization that are currently rife.

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20 thoughts on “Indonesia Must Block Virginity Tests for School Girls

  1. I believe it is totally unacceptable to subjugate little girls to such demeaning and violating treatments at such an early age. THis type of practices will have a long-term influence on their perception of sexual intercourse and establish an unhealthy relationship with their very bodies. Besides it is a misogynistic practice that maintains the superior position of men while degrading women even further. I strongly believe that virginity tests should not be allowed because already to mix education with sexuality and condition it as well as health care with private practices is a slippery slope.
    Thanks

  2. It is not just the Indonesian Government and this isn't new.

    Indonesia is a Democracy and it's elected officials are accountable to constinuents. The PEOPLE of Indonesia must demand change. BUT… This treatment of young women and the fact that Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world is no coincindence.

    Your calls to the Indonesian Government to end "intrusive, degrading and discriminatory" practices against women is commendable. But that won't happen until the RELIGIOUS stance on this issue is addressed. Where are the moderate Muslims on this issue? Why does a majority of the Nation represented by ELECTED officials tolerate this?

    It is time to call a spade a spade on these issues. Pressure needs to be put on religious leaders – not the Gov't – to skip a couple of centuries and join us in the 21st Century. Moderates (if there are enough of them) need to stand up and be heard. Women have always been secondclass in these Nations and much of the world. They will continue to be until the religion and the masses evolve.

  3. I think it's all too easy to point fingers and say that religion is the cause and that it should b altered, I am a muslim nd cnt agree more with u , sexuality IS a problem mainly that fanatics tend to dwell on IT rather than other issues.Yet, in islam, both women AND men are targeted in terms of the reprecussions of sexual intercourse outside of wedlock! in pratical terms, the gap btw wht shld b and wht is is HUGE! I think that saying relgion and the masses is not going to pay off because you can not change mentalities just like that, but you can demand a concrete change , a change of the legislation! Putting an end to such practices IS crucial and you can argue in scientific terms , a commonground because you cannot start debating with people by placing them and their beliefs at a scale where you're high above( a "coupl v centuries" high as a matter of fact!) and expect to be heard!

    Religion AND the misinterpretation of it should be neither a reason to account for poeple's atrocities nor a means to attack them, it shouldn b addressed at all , you want a change start with a universal principle, a scientific position, a survey of the scoop of damage thez practices can cause, may b then your opinion will be taken into consideration!

  4. I believe it is totally unacceptable to subjugate little girls to such demeaning and violating treatments at such an early age. THis type of practices will have a long-term influence on their perception of sexual intercourse and establish an unhealthy relationship with their very bodies. Besides it is a misogynistic practice that maintains the superior position of men while degrading women even further. I strongly believe that virginity tests should not be allowed because already to mix education with sexuality and condition it as well as health care with private practices is a slippery slope.
    Thanks

  5. It is not just the Indonesian Government and this isn’t new.

    Indonesia is a Democracy and it’s elected officials are accountable to constinuents. The PEOPLE of Indonesia must demand change. BUT… This treatment of young women and the fact that Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation in the world is no coincindence.

    Your calls to the Indonesian Government to end “intrusive, degrading and discriminatory” practices against women is commendable. But that won’t happen until the RELIGIOUS stance on this issue is addressed. Where are the moderate Muslims on this issue? Why does a majority of the Nation represented by ELECTED officials tolerate this?

    It is time to call a spade a spade on these issues. Pressure needs to be put on religious leaders – not the Gov’t – to skip a couple of centuries and join us in the 21st Century. Moderates (if there are enough of them) need to stand up and be heard. Women have always been secondclass in these Nations and much of the world. They will continue to be until the religion and the masses evolve.

  6. I think it’s all too easy to point fingers and say that religion is the cause and that it should b altered, I am a muslim nd cnt agree more with u , sexuality IS a problem mainly that fanatics tend to dwell on IT rather than other issues.Yet, in islam, both women AND men are targeted in terms of the reprecussions of sexual intercourse outside of wedlock! in pratical terms, the gap btw wht shld b and wht is is HUGE! I think that saying relgion and the masses is not going to pay off because you can not change mentalities just like that, but you can demand a concrete change , a change of the legislation! Putting an end to such practices IS crucial and you can argue in scientific terms , a commonground because you cannot start debating with people by placing them and their beliefs at a scale where you’re high above( a “coupl v centuries” high as a matter of fact!) and expect to be heard!

    Religion AND the misinterpretation of it should be neither a reason to account for poeple’s atrocities nor a means to attack them, it shouldn b addressed at all , you want a change start with a universal principle, a scientific position, a survey of the scoop of damage thez practices can cause, may b then your opinion will be taken into consideration!

  7. I am a mother of a beautiful 20-year-old girl. She is the most wonderful person I know. We love and respect each other. I have taught her right from woring, but she has to make her own choices.
    I simply cannot understand the practice of checking the virginity of a school girl. That is SICK!!! Girls should be respected, loved and trusted…….
    Stop this violent acts on girls NOW. It is simply discusting! Women must have the right of their sexual privacy!!

  8. I am a mother of a beautiful 20-year-old girl. She is the most wonderful person I know. We love and respect each other. I have taught her right from woring, but she has to make her own choices.
    I simply cannot understand the practice of checking the virginity of a school girl. That is SICK!!! Girls should be respected, loved and trusted…….
    Stop this violent acts on girls NOW. It is simply discusting! Women must have the right of their sexual privacy!!

  9. I support the human right on its every fundamental rights, but just remember that "Revirgination" is also a big bussines (revirgination is a set of different plastic surgeries and exercises intended to make you look and feel like a virgin again). It's unfair those who can "sale" theirs again and again and than process his Revirgination again and again in hospitals. So, heard that girls reason too. Yeah who knows, the girls need that certificate. Everything is certified now a days. She deserve to receive more on exchange for having preserve and certified that.

  10. OK – Does this mean that the innocent gals in Indonesia should be screwing around like their counterparts in USA ????? As much as it's not quite done, if it's done in a decent manner, we can ensure that at least gals of the east will be well cultured and not premature moms like in USA.

  11. I support the human right on its every fundamental rights, but just remember that “Revirgination” is also a big bussines (revirgination is a set of different plastic surgeries and exercises intended to make you look and feel like a virgin again). It’s unfair those who can “sale” theirs again and again and than process his Revirgination again and again in hospitals. So, heard that girls reason too. Yeah who knows, the girls need that certificate. Everything is certified now a days. She deserve to receive more on exchange for having preserve and certified that.

  12. OK – Does this mean that the innocent gals in Indonesia should be screwing around like their counterparts in USA ????? As much as it’s not quite done, if it’s done in a decent manner, we can ensure that at least gals of the east will be well cultured and not premature moms like in USA.

  13. marwa

    Thanks for your comments/response to my post and sharing your perspective.

    Having more time to consider this issue and rethink the words I chose (ie…skip a few centuries and join is in the 21st)… I will agree that is no way to win hearts and change minds.

    However, you can not change this mentality in Indonesia – or throughout the world for that matter by passing a law here and there. Those who preach discrimination against women (and the followers of) need to be challenged. And yes it is easy to point to religion – or the overwhelming adherence to or interpretation of.

  14. Hmmm…-

    Those "gals" you speak of are human beings and no less than you. No they shouldn't "screw" around… but if they are it is certainly none of your business. AND forcing these intrusive tests is hardly advocating a "well cultured" society… infact just the opposite.

  15. marwa

    Thanks for your comments/response to my post and sharing your perspective.

    Having more time to consider this issue and rethink the words I chose (ie…skip a few centuries and join is in the 21st)… I will agree that is no way to win hearts and change minds.

    However, you can not change this mentality in Indonesia – or throughout the world for that matter by passing a law here and there. Those who preach discrimination against women (and the followers of) need to be challenged. And yes it is easy to point to religion – or the overwhelming adherence to or interpretation of.

  16. Hmmm…-

    Those “gals” you speak of are human beings and no less than you. No they shouldn’t “screw” around… but if they are it is certainly none of your business. AND forcing these intrusive tests is hardly advocating a “well cultured” society… infact just the opposite.

  17. @Brian:

    I tremendously respect you for having gone back on what you said and re-evaluated it, it's quite tellin in terms v wht kinda person u R .As for the legislation , I do agree that passing a law here and there isn't the key fr a radical change but it can pay off on the long run.Mentalities cannot b changed over-night but slight yet meaningful changes can challenge thoz archaic methods by fixing them when need be! If sb has the face to advocate thoz tests , then he shldn't b given the permission to do , the gov shld act because only a legislative body can be practical enough for the time being, till with time ,mentalities have he time to evolve

    @hmmmm: wht u just said shldn even b dignified with an answer!

  18. @Brian:

    I tremendously respect you for having gone back on what you said and re-evaluated it, it’s quite tellin in terms v wht kinda person u R .As for the legislation , I do agree that passing a law here and there isn’t the key fr a radical change but it can pay off on the long run.Mentalities cannot b changed over-night but slight yet meaningful changes can challenge thoz archaic methods by fixing them when need be! If sb has the face to advocate thoz tests , then he shldn’t b given the permission to do , the gov shld act because only a legislative body can be practical enough for the time being, till with time ,mentalities have he time to evolve

    @hmmmm: wht u just said shldn even b dignified with an answer!

  19. As a fundamental muslim,i think it is worth striking about and comment upon.Indonessians,being muslims should be 100 percent agressive towards it and a muslim father should not tolerate the theft of the selfrespect of his daughter.

  20. As a fundamental muslim,i think it is worth striking about and comment upon.Indonessians,being muslims should be 100 percent agressive towards it and a muslim father should not tolerate the theft of the selfrespect of his daughter.