The move to make virginity testing of high school girl students in Indonesia mandatory has drawn flak from activists, arguing it as discrimination against women and violation of human rights.
Muhammad Rasyid, chief of education in south Sumatra’s Prabumulih district, proposed the idea. Describing it as the best option to protect children against free sex and prostitution, he said that the city budget could be made use of and tests could be started by early next year, if approval was accorded to the proposal by the MPs.
Rasyid was quoted as saying that the virginity test was proposed for the good of the children. He also added that virginity is a right of every woman and students are not expected to commit negative acts.
As per the requirement of the test, female school students in the age group of 16 to 19 years would have to undergo hymen examination every year till they completed their graduation. On the other hand, boys would not be examined to know whether they had sex or not.
Local politicians have supported the proposal as it would be helpful in cutting down the promiscuity raging in the district. However, Agung Laksono, Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare, ordered the Education Minister Mohammad to reject Rasyid’s proposal.
Islamist Prosperous Justice Party member Hasrul Azwar told Jakarta Post that virginity is sacred and it is disgraceful if a student lost her virginity prior to marriage.
According to Kompas, a local website, the idea of testing virginity was proposed because of an increase in the number of premarital sex cases. As many as six senior grade high school students were arrested recently for alleged prostitution.
The plan is being proposed for the third time in Indonesia where majority of the people are Muslims. Similar proposals came up earlier in 2007 in West Java and in 2010 in Sumatra. These proposals were dropped following a public outcry.
Local as well as national MPs, rights groups, activists and the Islamic advisory council of the locality have denounced the plan, saying that it potentially denies the universal right to education of female students and makes them targets for sexual assaults.
It is not clear as of now as to how virginity testing would be carried out and what its consequences will be if such proposal is approved. This has prompted local teachers to wonder as to whether the students whose hymen is not intact will be permitted to attend classes or not.
Among Indonesians, especially those that live in rural areas, virginity is considered to be a prized possession. However, the rapid changes in moral attitudes can create some amount of tension among the elders who are conservative and large moderate youth in a country having a population of 240 million.
Lawmakers proposed a ban on women wearing miniskirts last year. In the province of Aceh where shariah law prevails, women were ordered to sit side-saddle when travelling on motorbikes so as to better hide "curves of a woman's body".