Indonesia Wants Female Cops to Be God-Fearing Virgins

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Indonesian police women participate in "Indonesia Menari", an Indonesian dance event, in Jakarta on November 24, 2013. The event is held to encourage people to dance.
Photo: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images

Women who want to join the Indonesian police force have to do more than just pass a written and athletic evaluation. Under the country’s rules, they must also prove that they are virgins — and they are subjected to a humiliating physical examination to establish that fact. 

Entering the virginity test examination room was really upsetting,” one woman told Human Rights Watch, a group that has been investigating these requirements. “I feared that after they performed the test I would not be a virgin anymore. They inserted two fingers with gel … it really hurt. My friend even fainted.”

The test was supposed to have been abolished in 2010, but women who applied to the force as recently as this year have been forced to undergo it. Some officials try to downplay the examinations as just one component of a comprehensive checkup that also tests for sexually transmitted diseases, and they’re quick to note that “failing” a virginity test (how that is established is not quite clear) wouldn’t necessarily disqualify a woman from the force.

The police force also has a slew of requirements for incoming cops that, arguably, don’t really have an impact on how good an officer a given lady will be. Female applicants to the force must also be unmarried, under age 22, at least five foot five, and adherents of one of the country’s recognized faiths. According to the Global Post, they must also have completed high school and can’t wear glasses. 

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. It’s also in the midst of a large push to recruit more female police officers, and 7,000 are currently in training to bulk up the paltry 3 percent of the police force that women currently make up. But virginity tests seem like a pretty good way to make sure women don’t join up.