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Rights group urges Indonesia to stop military ‘virginity tests’

Indonesia faced calls Thursday to stop virginity tests for women seeking to join the military, with a leading rights group calling the practice “cruel, inhuman and degrading”.

Human Rights Watch said interviews with female members of the military showed that the examination, normally conducted through a “two-finger test” to ensure the hymen is intact, was required of women joining the armed forces or planning to marry military officers.

The armed forces defended checking female applicants` virginity, saying that people of low morals could “damage the military”, but denied that those planning to marry officers were also subject to the checks.

This is just the latest controversy around virginity tests in conservative, Muslim-majority Indonesia, with the national police facing criticism last year for forcing female applicants to undergo the examinations.

In a statement, HRW said the military “should immediately end the use of so-called virginity tests, which violate the prohibition of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment under international human rights law”.

The group described the practice as gender-based violence and said it was “scientifically baseless” as a method of proving that a woman was a virgin.

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