JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST\ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Indonesian National Police has confirmed that the virginity test on female cadets is used to measure their physical fitness as well as their morality.
The head of the National Police law division, Inspector General Moechgiyarto, said on Wednesday that the virginity test, which is conducted only by female physicians at police-operated hospitals, is the norm in the force.
"The procedure has been practiced for a long time. We need to check the quality [of the candidates] by checking their virginity," Moechgiyarto told reporters on the sidelines of a discussion in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
He said that the chief objective of the test was to ensure that female cadets lived up to high moral standards.
"If she (a candidate) turns out to be a prostitute, then how could we accept her for the job?" he said.
Rights campaigners have slammed the practice saying that it is degrading to women.
The latest report by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based rights group, revealed that in the virginity test taken for the National Police recruitment process, a female doctor inserts two fingers into the candidates' vagina to check the level of vaginal laxity.
Female police and police cadets have said that the "two-finger" examination left them traumatised, humiliated and in pain.
Moechgiyarto shrugged off the HRW's criticism that the practice violated women's rights.
He said that any candidate who was not a virgin would not necessarily be kicked out of the recruitment process.
"If a candidate is not a virgin anymore but she meets all the qualifications, then we will check her background information in her neighbourhood," Moechgiyarto said.
When asked why such a test was not administered to male cadets, he said that it was simply due to the absence of a medical procedure that could determine male virginity.
National Police spokesman Agus Rianto acknowledged however that "virgin" female cadets had the upper hand compared to those whose hymen "was damaged".
"It may have been damaged due to accident, disease or sexual intercourse. This will impact on the candidates' physical examination score. Those who are intact may get 80 points, while others will get 60 points," Agus said at National Police headquarters.
The police's human relations division head, Inspector General Ronny Sompie, said the genital examination was mainly to ensure that the selected cadets were free from serious genital defects, tumors and sexually transmitted disease.
Ronny also maintained that a candidates' virginity would not decide the result of the recruitment test.
"Many women who are not virgins have been recruited to the force. But it is impossible for us to give the data to the public," he said.
He dismissed accusations that the test was discrimination against female candidates, saying that male candidates were obliged to take a genital examination.
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) chairman Haris Azhar said that the police had a questionable moral standard.
"The police should be ashamed. They're not moral police. It actually makes us question the morality of the police force itself," he said.
Haris said that an internal regulation could not be used to justify the practice. "A regulation doesn't necessarily translate into good practice, it can also lead to bad practice," he said.
National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) chair Yuniyanti Chuzaifah said the commission had requested a meeting with National Police chief General Sutarman to discuss the matter.
"It is wrong to judge women based on the rupture of the hymen. The virginity test violates the right of women to work - in this case to become a police officer. Moreover, their male counterparts do not take a similar test or face judgment over their virginity. The test is discriminatory and degrading," she said.