[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Indonesians outraged over virginity tests

Education chief in Indonesian city faces anger after proposing virginity tests for students entering high school.

Last Modified: 22 Aug 2013 12:58
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Some social media users called the tests a form of child abuse that could emotionally scar students [Reuters]

A proposal by an education official on Indonesia's Sumatra Island requiring female senior high school students to undergo virginity tests has been met with public outrage.

Indonesian officials on Tuesday dismissed the proposal as excessive and unethical, with the country's education minister saying "this is not wise."

Muhammad Rasyid, head of the education office in South Sumatra's district of Prabumulih, was the official who initially proposed the plan. He wanted to start the tests next year to discourage premarital sex and protect against prostitution. "If you want to protect your children from negative influence, there are other ways," the minister said.

If you want to protect your children from negative influence, there are other ways.

Muhammad Rasyid, local education official

Activists accused Rasyid of promoting "sexual violence against women" after he suggested the idea following the arrest of six high-school students for alleged prostitution. They called the plan discriminatory and a violation of human rights.

In the capital Jakarta, Aris Merdeka Sirait of the National Commission for Child Protection said the plan was "just aimed for popularity."

"Loss of virginity is not merely because of sexual activities. It could be caused by sports or health problems and many other factors," Sirait said. "We strongly oppose this very excessive move."

Local authorities opposed

The tests would affect students seeking to enter senior high school. In Muslim-majority Indonesia, senior high-school students are aged between 16 and 19.

In a written statement to the Jakarta Post newspaper on Wednesday, Rasyid seemed to back away from his proposal a bit.

"We never planned a virginity test for female students,” he wrote. "We were only approving the request made by the parents of a student after she was accused of no longer being a virgin by a suspect in a human trafficking case."

Rasyid said he agreed with the demand because he did not want to see any false accusations against three females who were arrested in the case and claimed to be students.

Earlier, the city's deputy mayor, Ardiansyah Fikri, said that local authorities did not support it.

However, he said religious and moral education programmes were being planned to discourage people from public displays of affection in the city.

A similar plan was scrapped in another Sumatran province in 2010 amid widespread criticism.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country of 240 million, is a secular nation where most practice a moderate, tolerant form of the faith. But some conservatives are worried rapid modernisation is eroding morals.

446

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
A political power struggle masquerading as religious strife grips Nigeria - with mixed-faith couples paying the price.
The current surge in undocumented child migrants from Central America has galvanized US anti-immigration groups.
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
join our mailing list