Dio Suhenda, Jakarta – Rights groups have welcomed the abolishment of the controversial "two-finger test", a virginity test that had long been a requirement for female recruits to join the Indonesian Army.
Gen. Andika Perkasa, the Army chief of staff, announced on Wednesday that the army was finally scrapping the virginity test, among other revisions it was introducing after internal evaluations of the process in May.
He said the tests administered during the recruitment process were designed only to ensure that applicants were physically fit enough to complete the military training and to prevent any transmission of disease.
"[The virginity test] was an assessment [to find out if] the hymen was intact, partially ruptured, or completely ruptured. Now, that assessment is no longer [necessary]," said Andika, as quoted by kompas.com.
Numerous rights groups, many of whom have long campaigned against the virginity test, have commended the Army's decision to stop the practice, including National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara.
"Komnas HAM would like to express its appreciation for the military's decision, which is in line with human rights standards and norms that respect human dignity while also respecting their personal space," Beka told the Post on Thursday.
"There was never any need for the test," said Andy Yentriyani, head of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan).
Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) activist Andreas Harsono said it was "the right thing to do", adding that the practice was "degrading, discriminatory and traumatic".
He said HRW had spoken to more than 100 female military recruits who underwent the test, one of whom said she was subjected to it in 1965.
Virginity tests, which have long been deemed a violation of human rights, are explicitly used in the Army's recruitment policy; they are not a specific requirement for either the Navy or the Air Force.
Air Cdre. Indan Gilang, an Air Force spokesperson, said that while female reproduction tests were undertaken to check for cysts or other health complications that might impair a cadet's ability to serve, "virginity tests" as it is understood do not exist in the Air Force's terminology.
A Navy spokesperson has said it conducts pregnancy tests on applicants, but no specific virginity tests.
Andika first signaled a change in the Army's recruitment process last month, as he called for the process to be made equal for both male and female cadets.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the examination method has no scientific merit or clinical indication. The systematic review states that there is no known examination that can prove a person's history of vaginal intercourse.