High school virginity test proposal sparks controversy

In addition to violating the rights of children, the reported plan would hurt efforts to boost high school graduate rates, critics say.

By Okky Feliantiar and Yenny Herawati for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

August 31, 2013
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Word that a school district in South Sumatra may require Senior High School (SMA) girls to submit to a virginity test has sparked an outcry in Indonesia.

  • Senior high school students in Madiun, East Java, said mandatory virginity tests would make them afraid to come to school. The topic has been hotly debated in Indonesia after media reported that one school district was planning such tests. [Yenny Herawati/Khabar]

    Senior high school students in Madiun, East Java, said mandatory virginity tests would make them afraid to come to school. The topic has been hotly debated in Indonesia after media reported that one school district was planning such tests. [Yenny Herawati/Khabar]

"We are planning a virginity test for SMA girls and their equivalent. We're proposing funding for the test in the 2014 regional budget," Kompas quoted H. M. Rasyid, head of the educational office in Prabumulih, South Sumatra, as saying on August 19th.

He said he expected the plan would be controversial. "But, at the same time, we hope girl students don't fall into something negative. That is why we are discussing this for next year".

Proposal met with outrage

A few days later, Rasyid vigorously denied his office was considering such a policy, and said the media had misinterpreted his statements, according to The Jakarta Globe. But the initial report triggered widespread response.

"If the goal is improvement, so that our children avoid negative things, there are more noble ways," Education Minister Mohammad Nuh told reporters at the State Palace in Jakarta.

"If they are not virgins, then what? Will they not be allowed to go to school?" asked the minister, clearly irate.

His deputy minister, Musliar Kasim, said such tests would interfere with the government's efforts to retain students through high school.

"Precisely because of that, I want to urge all local authorities in charge of education not to perform virginity tests on incoming students," he said.

"Our data on secondary school attendance is still low, 70-80%," he said, adding that virginity tests would create a greater gap for girl students.

Kunthi Tridewiyanti of the National Commission for Women (Komnas Perempuan) said the policy would be a step backward for Indonesia if enacted.

"This is a clear discrimination against women. Does this mean only women are responsible for bad acts in society?" she commented to Khabar.

"With this requirement, we are not progressing in promoting human rights and women's rights. We are stepping backward instead," she said.

The idea has received some support in certain quarters. Deputy head of the United Development Party (PPP) Hasrul Azwar told Kompas such tests are needed "from time to time" due to "the rampant premarital sex among students".

Elsewhere, the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) of Pamekasan, Madura, has been pressing the local government to mandate a virginity test for high school girls.

"If students are engaging in sex, schools will be tarnished in the eyes of society because they cannot improve their students' morals," said Zainal Alim, the secretary for MUI Pamekasan. He said that schools also need more religious education.

Students respond

A group of high school students in Madiun, East Java, told Khabar they could not understand why the education office and other institutions were insisting on knowing this most private matter.

Anita Nurhandayani, 16, said the proposal made her and her friends nervous. "It's making us afraid to come to school," she said.

She said they wanted to know just how the tests would be carried out and by whom. "I am afraid if we become the object of an examination and we don't know what the point is," she said.

Widya Nurani, a 13-year-old student in South Sumatra, expressed fear that girls who do not pass the test would be deprived of their education.

"Our constitution guarantees our right to get or to pursue education. It does not mention there is an exception for those who are not virgins anymore," she said.

"I think the virginity test will not enforce moral development in our society. It will not educate students. I believe it is possible to approach the younger generations like myself by introducing sex education as early as possible," she said.

Reader Comments
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    • syafrullah
      September 18, 2013 @ 09:09:11AM
    • The problem is, the body and the spirit are gifts from the Almighty and need to be cared for. How can they be good and trustworthy when they betray their own God by committing adultery out of wedlock, let alone other people. Sorry, do not admit prostitutes into schools.
    • Xyz
      October 18, 2013 @ 08:10:54AM
    • Yes, you are right, it is very noble when a father kills his daughter! I am sure the Almighty approves of that!
    • turmuzi
      September 15, 2013 @ 04:09:24AM
    • I agree, but it does not mean that if the results are positive, educators cannot participate in education. Maybe we can give them more motivation.
    • Z.A
      September 14, 2013 @ 04:09:25AM
    • Perhaps it is not only women who must be given counselling with respect to sex but also men who need it more, considering there are many men who are more prone to deviance in that world, rape for instance. Women should also not be so stupid to do such things.
    • riny silvitri
      September 14, 2013 @ 01:09:52AM
    • :)
    • nitaninit kasapink
      September 13, 2013 @ 11:09:05PM
    • We need brains, not virgins.
    • Rinrini
      September 11, 2013 @ 09:09:51PM
    • Why is it only girls who would be tested? Boys need to be tested too to be fair.
    • james veldman
      September 5, 2013 @ 12:09:13AM
    • Virginity tests will not promote women's progress and school is about using the mind and heart. It would be very good if a psychological approach is implemented.
    • jody sukardy
      September 4, 2013 @ 11:09:28AM
    • I think this is good because these days there are too many girls who drop out of school because they got pregnant out of wedlock.
    • shafuroh
      August 31, 2013 @ 12:08:16PM
    • good articel..

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