When President Barack Obama met Indonesian President Joko Widodo on monday in Washington DC, the agenda included discussions about trade, defence and climate cooperation. On the other hand, activists wanted to lead the agenda with the discussions about virginity tests and religious discrimination occuring in Indonesia.
Virginity tests are mandatory for the Indonesian women aspiring to join the military and police force. The activists pleaded Obama to urge the Indonesian government to stop this heinous act against women.
Women in Indonesia are required to undertake a 'virginity test' if they wish to join the military force or marry a soldier.
Activists wanted Obama to urge Joko to withheld such examinations. John Sifton, the Asian director of Human Rights Watch said in a statement, "President Jokowi isn't responsible for the flurry of regulations harming women's rights, but he is now best positioned to do something about it."
Applicants and fiancées who were deemed to have "failed" were not necessarily penalized, but all of the women describe the test as painful, embarrassing, and traumatic.
Human Rights Watch found that the testing included the invasive "two-finger test" to determine whether female applicants' hymens are intact. Finger test findings are scientifically baseless because an "old tear" of the hymen or variation of the "size" of the hymenal orifice can be due to reasons unrelated to sex.
All of the women interviewed told Human Rights Watch that it was mandatory for all other women applying to enter the military or planning to marry military officers. They said that the only women excluded were those with "powerful connections" or who bribed the military doctors who administered the tests.
Female military recruits said that military officers informed them that the tests were crucial to preserving "the dignity and the honor of the nation." A retired air force officer wondered how she could "defend the honor of our nation if we cannot defend our own honor" by undergoing "virginity tests." Two military wives said that they were told that "virginity tests" helped stabilize "military families," in which the husbands often travel for months.