Jakarta – The city council of Jember in East Java has distanced itself from statements made by one of its lawmakers after he said last week all school girls would be required to take a virginity test in order to graduate.
Habib Isa Mahdi, a lawmaker from the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), drew disbelief when he said that Jember Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) was drafting a regulation on "good conduct," which includes an article installing a virginity test as a requirement for female students' graduation.
Isa said the city council thought the regulation was necessary because many secondary and high school students were engaging in pre-marital sexual activities.
On Tuesday, however, the council's deputy speaker, Ayub Junaidi, apologized for the comments and said no such bylaw was being considered.
"On behalf of the Jember Consultative Council we'd like to apologize to the public, especially to all women and girls across Indonesia," the National Awakening Party (PKB) lawmaker was quoted as saying by Kompas.com.
Ayub apologized to all students and told news website Tribunnews.com there were definitely no plans to draft a bylaw. However, the deputy speaker said sex and access to pornography among students was an issue and that the DPRD was "concerned."
"What's happening is that free sex exists among students and the number of HIV/AIDS infected school and college students are pretty high – this is what makes us concerned," Ayub said, as quoted by Kompas.com.
The council and the local education agency were looking at ways to improve sexual education in Jember, he said.
The Jember chapter of Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), the second-largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, opposed the proposal after it was announced.
On Monday the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) met with the Jember city council and voiced their disapproval too, saying it was discriminatory and opposed to proper Islamic teachings.