15/05/2015 12:39 BST | Updated 16/05/2015 07:59 BST

Indonesia's Virginity Test For Female Army Recruits Criticised By Human Rights Campaigners

BAY ISMOYO via Getty Images
Indonesian women walk past soldiers providing security in Bandung on western Java island on April 23, 2015, ahead of a planned walk by participating heads of states scheduled for April 24 for the 60th Asian-African Conference. Asian and African leaders have gathered in Indonesia this week to mark 60 years since a landmark conference that helped forge a common identity among emerging states, but analysts say big-power rivalries will overshadow proclamations of solidarity. AFP PHOTO / Bay ISMOYO

International pressure group Human Rights Watch have condemned the Indonesian military's "virginity testing" of female army recruits.

The "humiliating and harmful" procedure involves placing two fingers inside the vagina to check the hymen is intact.

President Joko Widodo has been pressured to halt the practice by human rights bodies.

joko widodo wife

Indonesian president Joko Widodo and his wife Iriana

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims has also stepped in, dubbing the test "a gross violation of women's rights and one that may amount to ill-treatment and torture under international law".

Both the IRCT and HRW have claimed Army officer's fiancées are also subject to the practice before marriage can go ahead, although the military has denied this.

Fuad Basya, a spokesperson for the Indonesian Army said: "We need to examine the mentality of these applicants. If they are no longer virgins, if they are naughty, it means their mentality is not good.

"If it is due to an accident we can still consider it but if it’s due to another reason, well, we cannot accept her."

Virginity tests are also required for female police recruits in the South East Asian nation, and have been proposed for young girls as a way to combat prostitution, however a recent plot to test schoolgirls was cancelled after public outrage.

"The Indonesian armed forces should recognise that harmful and humiliating ‘virginity tests’ on women recruits does nothing to strengthen national security," Human Rights Watch women’s rights advocacy director Nisha Varia said.

"President Joko Widodo should set the military straight and immediately abolish the requirement and prevent all military hospitals from administering it."

Speaking to 11 women who had suffered the test, all deemed it "painful, embarrassing and traumatic".


"Girls: Women Too Early" Photo Series