Indonesia lawmakers drop virginity tests for female students after uproar

Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:25am EST
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By Alisa Tang

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Indonesian officials have dropped a plan to require female students to pass virginity tests in order to graduate from high school and apologized after sparking a public outcry, human rights campaigners said on Wednesday.

Habib Isa Mahdi, a lawmaker from Jember in East Java province, said last week that the district council was drafting a "good conduct" regulation that would include a virginity test as many high school students were having pre-marital sex.

Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, last year admitted conducting virginity tests on women seeking to join the police or military even though the practice has no scientific validity, according to the World Health Authority.

The Jember proposal sparked widespread condemnation, although local lawmakers in East Java's third largest urban area with a population of 330,000 defended the move and hoped it could be expanded across the Jember area of 2.3 million people.

"If they’re not virgins any more, don’t let them pass," local lawmaker Mufti Ali was quoted in local media as telling news site

"We can’t test the boys ... but at least with the regulation, girls will be afraid. The boys will be prevented from the act because girls will become unwilling."

Indonesia's top Muslim clerics opposed the proposal, saying it discriminated against female students and was contrary to Islamic teachings.

Previous attempts to introduce virginity tests for female students, in South Sumatra in 2013 and in West Java in 2007, also backfired.   Continued...