Chastity tests violate women’s privacy and demean them

(Top right): Maria Chin Abdullah

PETALING JAYA: Why would one want to face the humiliation of going through a “virginity test” to enter the police force?

In Indonesia, women who want to be cops have no choice but to undergo a mandatory chastity test.

Many have described the test as a violation of their privacy, a painful and traumatic procedure to endure. But do they have a choice?

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) executive director Maria Chin Abdullah advised Indonesian women to sue the government for this discriminatory policy.

“Empower would object to this. Remember the “ear squat” test for Taiwan women alleged to be illegals or the MAS discriminatory collective bargaining involving female flight attendants?” said Maria. These discriminatory policies demean women.

Maria said that such policies in any country must stop as they were targeted at women and meant to humiliate them.

“There is no connection between virginity and taking up a job as a policewoman,” she said.

She noted that the virginity test was discriminatory as it didn’t apply to men.

“It sends the message that it is okay for men not to be virgins but not for women as they must remain “intact”, but for whom?

“Such acts are invasive into reproductive health rights of women and they don’t have the option to say no,” Maria said.

The procedure involves candidates stripping naked and a female doctor doing the virginity test – the ‘two-finger’ test.

The Indonesian police do not accept women who are married and women older than 22.

Maria stressed that all citizens under Article 27 of the Indonesian Constitution have equal status before the law.

Asked for her reaction if such tests were to be conducted in Malaysia, she said that women had every right to take legal action against the government.

Maria said Article 8 (2) of the Federal Constitution forbids discrimination based on gender in public institutions, including the police force.

On claims that countries like China and India also held such tests and asked if they should be banned or if they had any religious relevance, she said: “Definitely such acts should be totally banned and they don’t have any religious relevance.

“Any person has the right to marry or remain single but this cannot be connected to their employment.

“Going by the above example, it means that the police being a government institution has not only discriminated women based on their reproductive rights but excluded them from their right to work.”

Previously, Indonesian police chief Gen Sutarman had asserted there were no such tests.

He questioned the chastity test reports and denied the allegations. “Who is responsible for spreading rumours that women have to go through virginity tests?”

However international watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed that it had interviewed female police and police applicants in six Indonesian cities who had undergone the test. Two of them were tested in 2014.

HRW said all the women described the test as painful and traumatic. It also added that the “failed” applicants were still employed in the police force.

Although senior police officials had claimed that the practice has been discontinued, it still remains as a requirement for women applicants on the official police website, said HRW.

“The Indonesian National Police’s use of ‘virginity tests’ is a discrimination practice that harms and humiliates women,” said HRW’s associate women’s right director Nisha Varia.

Perhaps the Indonesian police head honchos must reveal what does one’s virginity got to do with one’s ability to perform as a competent police officer.

Watch the video that exposes this practice and the women who were abused!

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