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Girls & Women

Indonesian Policewomen Subjected to 'Virginity Testing,' Beauty Evaluations


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Young women around the world face gender discrimination and sexual violence, and also lack access to education. Global Citizen seeks to make gender equality a reality. You can join us in taking action on this issue here.

Law enforcement officers are typically called upon to be brave under threat of danger. But a new report alleges that policewomen throughout Indonesia are also required to look appealing and remain “sexually pure.”

As a part of the recruitment process, women seeking a career as police officers in Indonesia are subjected to an invasive "two-finger" virginity test and must be "pretty," reports ABC News.

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"The logic is that they only want good girls to be police officers," said Andreas Harsono, a representative of Human Rights Watch, in an interview with ABC News.

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The test is conducted by inserting two fingers into the vagina to see if the woman's hymen is still intact — a method long criticized as invasive and inexact in determining a woman's virginity. The practice has been officially outlawed in Indonesia after mounting international scrutiny by human rights groups. But a study published this year by Dr. Sharyn Graham Davies of the Auckland University of Technology found vaginal and hymen examinations are still a key aspect, even if unrecorded, of police recruitment in the country.

Harsono asserted that the same practice is used in the military.

"Many military generals believe that the hymen is like a clock; if the hymen is torn between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., it's mostly because of physical activities … but if the hymen is torn at 6 p.m., it means the woman has a sexual life," he told ABC News of the unscientific procedures, comparing them to sexual violence.

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Dr. Davies’ study found that appearance was a key component in female police force hires.

"They must also have a 'notably good body and a pretty face consistently complemented by a heartfelt smile,’" the report reads, noting that body measurements and bust size are recorded while a male selection committee judges the physical beauty of the job candidate.