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The Indonesian army has ended a controversial virginity test for female recruits, the army’s Chief of Staff Andika Perkasa said on Tuesday, reported Reuters.
In what is known as the “two-finger test,” medical officers would insert their fingers into recruits’ vaginas to check if the hymen was still intact and to determine if they were still virgins.
According to non-profit Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Indonesian military used the “abusive, unscientific, and discriminatory” test for decades. According to The Guardian, the first tests were undertaken in the 1960s. These tests were also sometimes extended to those who married into military families.
Those who “failed” the test may not have been “penalized” for it, “but all of the women described the test as painful, embarrassing, and traumatic,” according to women the HRW spoke with.
Using the hymen as a means to prove virginity has no scientific merit, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “The appearance of a hymen is not a reliable indication of intercourse and there is no known examination that can prove a history of vaginal intercourse,” the UN agency wrote, calling for a stop to the practice.
The army had previously maintained that the test was necessary to prove a recruit’s morality. In 2015, the former commander of Indonesia’s armed forces, General Moeldoko, said “there’s no other way” to determine a person’s morality, reported the Jakarta Globe.
But in a policy turnaround, the Indonesian Army chief said last month in a teleconference to army commanders that only medical checks that are related to recruitment and training should be performed.
“There will be no more [medical] examination outside that purpose,” Perkasa said, according to The Guardian. “There are things that are not relevant … And [we] can’t do that kind of examination anymore. We must do the same examination on the women recruits like we do on the men recruits.”
On Tuesday, the general confirmed to reporters that hymen tests are no longer carried out in the army, per Reuters.
In a statement confirmed by a military spokesperson, he said: “Whether the hymen was ruptured or partially ruptured was part of the examination … now there’s no more of that.”
Virginity tests are still commonplace in some parts of the world. It was only this year that Pakistan outlawed “virginity tests” for rape examinations, reported the BBC. In 2017, Afghanistan also outlawed the test, but HRW reported that the invasive procedure was still happening.