Indonesia General Defends Virginity Tests For Female Soldiers

Photo: BAY ISMOYO/Getty Images.
The U.S. military is sometimes a challenging place for female soldiers, but some women in uniform have it a lot worse. An Indonesian general is defending mandatory, invasive "virginity tests" for female recruits, supposedly to prove their moral fiber. General Moeldoko, the head of Indonesia's armed forces, spoke out on Friday about a campaign by Human Rights Watch against the military's so-called "two-finger" test to check if a woman's hymen is intact. Nisha Varia, HRW's women’s rights advocacy director, said in a statement, “The Indonesian armed forces should immediately stop the discriminatory, arbitrary, and gender-based violence of so-called virginity tests.” The practice — which is medically unnecessary, humiliating, and completely useless at actually determining anything about a woman's sexual history — is still done on women in countries like Egypt, India, and Afghanistan. Moeldoko said the test is a measure of morality, and that there’s no other way to judge a woman's character, according to the Jakarta Globe. He didn't go into detail about the many avenues he sees for men to prove themselves that don't involve archaic, sexist practices. It's not just would-be soldiers who have to go through the trauma, either; women who are engaged to soldiers are also subjected to it.
Human Rights Watch called on the military to end the practice last week, and Muslim leaders in Indonesia have also spoken out, saying that the test violates religious law. Even the country's surgeon general said the test determines nothing about a soldier's health or fitness for the military, but Moeldoko is still defiant. "So what's the problem? It's a good thing, so why criticize it?" he said, according to the Jakarta Globe

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