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It’s degrading, discriminatory, not to mention junk science – so why does the notion of “virginity tests” keep rearing its ugly head?

This bad idea got yet another airing this week in Indonesia with a proposal that high school girls be subjected to mandatory “virginity tests” to tackle perceived problems of “premarital sex and prostitution.”

The apparent brainchild of H.M. Rasyid, education chief of Prabumulih district in Indonesia’s south Sumatra, Indonesian media reported on Monday that Rasyid was ready to budget funds for the tests and roll them out as early as next year. There are also plans afoot to enact similar tests in Pamekasan, East Java.

Indonesian civil society organizations rightfully attacked Raysid’s proposal as “against human rights ”while Indonesia’s education minister, Mohammad Nuh, skewered the idea as “degrading and discriminatory.”  By Wednesday, Rasyid was insisting that he had been misquoted and had no intention to implement virginity tests.

The opprobrium that greeted the proposed “virginity tests” in Indonesia is good news for the rights of women. The lack of medical validity for such “tests” – doctors simply cannot accurately determine a woman’s sexual history from such exams – adds insult to gross, invasive injury.

Human Rights Watch decried the  March 10, 2011 sexual assault of seven women by Egyptian military officers under the guise of “virginity tests,” exposed their use in Afghanistan  to determine “moral crimes” in May 2013,  and applauded India’s Supreme Court in July 2013 for declaring that the so-called “ two-finger test” used by many doctors during medico-legal examinations of rape survivors in parts of India “violates the right of rape survivors to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity. “

The onus is on the Indonesian government to ensure that Indonesian women and girls never have to endure such indignities. 

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