S. Sumatra School’s Virginity Test Plan Draws Criticism
A plan by the Education Agency of Prabumulih, South Sumatra, to include virginity tests as part of its high school admission requirements has drawn the ire of legislators and education experts, who say that such an exam is a violation of personal space and an obstruction to a student’s right to an education.
H.M. Rasyid, the chief of Prabumulih’s Education Agency, told the Indonesian news portal kompas.com on Monday that increasing instances of premarital sex and prostitution among female students prompted the move.
“We’re planning on conducting virginity tests for senior high school students,” Rasyid said. “We have proposed it in the 2014 regional budget.”
Dedi Gumilar, a lawmaker from the House of Representatives Commission X, which oversees educational matters, criticized the plan and questioned its constitutionality.
“Do we have a law stating that students must be holy? It’s written in the country’s constitution that every citizen has the right to education,” he told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday.
Deputy chair of the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) Masruchah also disagreed with the idea, saying that a student’s body wasn’t the dominion of a public official.
“Virginity is a personal problem, and a person has the right over their own body,” Masruchah said. “The [Prabumulih] Education Agency has no right to control a student’s body.”
Rasyid, meanwhile, admitted that the city’s plan could be easily misunderstood.
“Every woman has the right to virginity, though on the other hand, we expect students to not commit negative acts. Therefore, we plan to implement the policy next year.”
Masruchah said that a student’s morality should not be validated by whether or not they have had sexual intercourse.
“What if a student was a rape victim and failed the test?” Masruchah said. “[It is possible for] students to lose their virginity due to accidents.”
Masruchah advised Rasyid to consider including sexual education in the school’s curriculum instead of virginity tests.
“It’s overrated. Morality cannot be determined by [a student's] genitals,” he said.
“What will they do with the test results? Are they going to reveal which students are not virgins?”
Ibnu Hamad, a spokesman of the Education Ministry, said that the ministry could only counsel the agency against instituting the examination.
“It’s a technical policy which is determined by the head of the local education agency,” Ibnu told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday. “We can advise that whatever policy they implement, it should not hamper a student’s access to education.”
Virginity tests — which are viewed as harmful and invasive — examine a woman’s hymen in order to determine whether or not she has engaged in sexual intercourse.