An education chief in the South Sumatran town of Prabumulih, Indonesia has proposed that virginity tests be conducted on female students entering high school, and yearly thereafter until they graduate. In Muslim-majority Indonesia, the proposal — the third of its kind in six years — is being met with widespread scrutiny.
Muhammad Rasyid proposed the tests as a way of curbing vice crimes committed against students. It would also discourage students from engaging in “negative activities,” according to The Jakarta Post. “This is for their own good,” he said. “Every woman has the right to virginity.”
The tests would be conducted yearly among teenage girls ages 16 to 19, and would examine their hymens to make sure they’re still intact. Boys, however, wouldn’t be subject to these tests. Rasyid says that it would be “an accurate way to protect children from prostitution and free sex.” The Guardian reports that increased incidences of premarital sex could be behind his proposal, including six arrests of high school seniors for alleged prostitution.
The proposal has been criticized by activists, rights groups, and local and international officials who argue that every girl has a right to education. “What should be done if [a female student] had done it (had sex)? Should she be banned from school, or what?” Education and Culture Minister Mohammad Nuh asked reporters at the Presidential Palace.
Meanwhile, other opponents said that it’s none of anyone’s business if a girl wants to have sex, or that if a girl did have sex it could have been forced. “There are female students who may have lost their virginity due to an accident. It is not their fault,” HA Djaujari, legislative council deputy speaker of South Sumatra, said.
Examining the hymen, a piece of tissue that lines the vaginal opening, isn’t an accurate way of testing for virginity, either. Among virgins, the hymen may still be intact, since stretching it through sexual intercourse is one way to break it. But “loss of virginity is not merely because of sexual activities,” Arist Merdeka Sirait, of the National Comission for Child Protection said. “It could be caused by sports or health problems and many other factors.” Sirait called the proposal an attempt at gaining “popularity” among religious conservatives.
“There are more important and useful things that need to be cared for than such a test,” Provincial Education Chief Widodo said, according to The Province. “As students, they need to be nurtured more than be judged.”