The agency’s findings come from interviews with female police and applicants in six Indonesian cities, all of whom had undergone the test.
While it points out applicants who “failed” were not necessarily barred from the force, all of the women described the "two-finger test", which involves noting the "laxity" of the vagina or hymen, as “painful and traumatic.” Footage of one woman forced to endure the procedure sees her tell the cameras how one of her colleagues fainted from the pain.
A female police officer directs traffic in Indonesia
The report says: “Policewomen have raised the issue with senior police officials, who have at times claimed the practice has been discontinued. But the test is listed as a requirement for women applicants on the official police recruitment website, and HRW interviews suggest it is still being widely applied.”
Police website literature translated by The Guardian states female recruits area also expected to be single and not marry until they have been in the force for a few years, with the added warning: “So all women who want to become policewomen should keep their virginity.”
Nisha Varia, associate women’s rights director at HRW said: “The Indonesian National Police’s use of ‘virginity tests’ is a discriminatory practice that harms and humiliates women.
“Police authorities in Jakarta need to immediately and unequivocally abolish the test, and then make certain that all police recruiting stations nationwide stop administering it.”
HRW points out “virginity tests” have been recognized internationally as a violation of human rights, particularly the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” under article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and article 16 of the Convention against Torture, both of which Indonesia has ratified.
Varia added: “So-called virginity tests are discriminatory and a form of gender-based violence – not a measure of women’s eligibility for a career in the police.
“This pernicious practice not only keeps able women out of the police, but deprives all Indonesians of a police force with the most genuinely qualified officers.”