Press Release INSTITUT PEREMPUAN (WOMEN’S INSTITUTE-INDONESIA) in Responding the Virginity Tests Plan for High School Girls

Discrimination against women (including girls and young women) continues to occur. This time, the public was startled by the news coming from the South Sumatra’s Prabumulih City Education Head Office (Indonesia), H.M. Rasyid, who is carrying out the plan to impose mandatory virginity tests for prospective high school girls as part of their entrance screening. Also, he wanted such tests to be funded by the district’s budget for the next year. According to him, the objective of the policy is to suppress prostitution and human trafficking (trafficking in persons, especially women and child)’s case allegedly involving high school girls in the region. This policy immediately received protests from various groups, especially high school girls and parents, and even the Minister of Education and Culture, Mohammad Nuh, also regretted this plan.

Actually the discourse of the mandatory virginity tests for prospective high school girls as part of their entrance screening is not the first time has happened. In 2010, the parliament members(legislators) of Jambi Province had proposed the similar idea. In 2007, the Regent of Indramayu threw similar plans of virginity tests to prevent circulation of pornographic VCDs.

The discourse of the virginity tests contains a series of policy issues. First, the existence of discrimination against the high school girls where those who found not longer virgin will suffer of a negative stigma and violated their rights for continuing education, which against the Indonesian 1945 Constitution, Article 28B Paragraph (2) states that “Every child has the right to survive, grow, and develop as well as the right to protection from violence and discrimination” and Article 28C (1) states that” Every person has the right to develop themselves by fulfilling their basic needs, are entitled to an education and to benefit from science and technology, arts and culture, in order to improve the quality of life and for the welfare of mankind”. Secondly, the policy also violates a woman(girl)’s body autonomy. Women and girls have the rights to freedom over their own bodies. Intervention through virginity tests is nothing but a harassment and violence against women(and girls). Third, the idea of the virginity tests to regulated which is coming from state apparatus/officials reflects a bias viewpoint on discrimination against women by the state. In the case of prostitution and trafficking in persons, state officials put “women/girls who are lack of moral” as the root of the problem. State apparatus then produces discriminatory policies such as virginity test. In this regard, the Government and Local Government Law violated the Law No. 7 Year 1984 on the Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women which regulates that state are required to make appropriate regulations to change the patterns of social and cultural behavior of men and women with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which is based on the idea of the inferiority or superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women (Article 5, letter a). Moreover, it also violated the Presidential Decree No. 9 Year 2000 on Gender Mainstreaming in National Development which has been followed in particular in the field of education in the form of the National Education Minister Regulation No. 84 Year 2008 on Guidelines for Gender Mainstreaming in Education. Fourth, contrary to the policy direction of education for the whole child personality development and respect for human rights values. The Convention on the Rights of the Child which has been ratified by the Presidential Decree No. 36 Year 1990 confirms that one child’s education should be directed to the development of the child’s personality, talents, mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential, and the development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter (Article 29 paragraph (1)). Furthermore, this is also regulated in the Law No. 23 Year 2002 on the Child Protection. Enforcing mandatory virginity test as a way of pressing the case of prostitution and human trafficking can be seen as a form of punishment against children alleged to have sexual intercourse and/or are victims of sexual violence. This kind of plan based on narrow-minded moral view should strongly be criticized and questioned its constitutionality. Education should continue to build the personality and character of the child, as part of their human rights fulfillment, and not become a mean of destroying the future of children.

Looking at the above conditions, we, INSTITUT PEREMPUAN (WOMEN’S INSTITUTE) strongly demanded the following:

1. The government to use its authority related to the guidance and supervision of regional government(provincial and district/city) in order to encourage the birth of regional policies related to the fulfillment of women’s human rights and elimination of discrimination against women and to prevent and undo the discriminatory policies;

2. The government to use its authority related guidance and supervision of the regional administration, to cancel the plan and idea such as mandatory virginity test for high school girls, coming from government officials at the local level (provincial and district/city)

3. The local government at provincial and district/city, particularly from Prabumulih to stop the plan to carry out such similar plan in imposing virginity tests on high school girls.

Bandung, August 21, 2013

For Justice, Equality, and Humanity,  

R. Valentina Sagala, SE., SH., MH.                                               

Chairperson of Executive Board

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