Human Rights Watch is calling on Indonesia to end ‘two-finger virginity tests’ conducted on women applying to join the military. The “discredited and degrading” exam is given early in the recruitment process and is used to determine if the woman’s hymen is still intact, and has been condemned as a form of gender-based violence. Human Rights Watch says that the practice violates the international human rights law that prohibits cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Recruits are reportedly given the explanation that the examinations are key in order for the women to preserve the “dignity and honor of the nation.” Testimony from applicants and officers from six Indonesian cities illustrate how the tests are distressing and uncomfortable and in some cases performed by male physicians. Nisha Varia, HRW women’s rights advocacy director, said, “The Indonesian armed forces should recognize that harmful and humiliating ‘virginity tests’ on women recruits does nothing to strengthen national security.”
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